Echinostoma liei, a newly described 37-spined eehinostome from Egypt, was tested against two trematodes in paired infections in the snail host, Biomphalaria glabrata (NIH strain). E. liei, when matched with the highly predacious Brazilian echinostome Paryphostomum segregatum, was dominated by the latter's predatory rediae. Pre-existing E. liei infections were destroyed, although the P. segregatum infection was itself delayed in development by an unidentified ‘indirect antagonism’ elicited by the E. liei larvae. In concurrent exposures with the two species, or with E. liei challenge of an established P. segregatum infection, the E. liei miracidia penetrated the snail, but the infection did not become established.
When E. liei and S. mansoni were paired, the former species dominated. Exposure of snails already infected with E. liei to miracidia of S. mansoni slowed growth of the latter and the schistosome sporocysts eventually disintegrated without producing cercariae. When E. liei miracidia were exposed to snails with S. mansoni infections of different ages, the echinostome became established but developed slowly. Subsequently, however, it destroyed the schistosome infection. Although E. liei is itself quickly eliminated by P. segregatum, the two species appear almost equal in anti-schistosome capacity. This can be credited in part to a deleterious or lethal effect of the E. liei-schistosome combination on the host snail, as well as to a direct anti-schistosomal effect. Greater knowledge of this host-inter-trematode balance may permit the use of trematodes to attack infected snails and their parasites in regions hyperendemic with human schistosomiasis.