Feasibility of near-infrared spectroscopy for species identification and parasitological diagnosis of freshwater snails of the genus Biomphalaria (Planorbidae)

PLOS ONE(2021)

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Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIRS) has been applied in epidemiological surveillance studies of insect vectors of parasitic diseases, such as the Dengue's mosquitoes. However, regarding mollusks, vectors of important worldwide helminth diseases such as schistosomiasis, fascioliasis and angiostrongyliasis, NIRS studies are rare. This work proposes to establish and standardize the procedure of data collection and analysis using NIRS applied to medical malacology, i.e., to mollusk vectors identifications. Biomphalaria shells and live snails were analyzed regarding several operational aspects, such as: moisture, shell side and position of the live animal for acquisition of NIR spectra. Representative spectra of Biomphalaria shells and live snails were collected using an average of 50 scans per sample and resolution of 16 cm(-1) . For shells, the sample should first be dried for a minimum of 15 days at an average temperature of 26 +/- 1 degrees C, and then placed directly in the equipment measurement window with its left side facing the light beam. Live animals should be dried with absorbent paper; placed into a glass jar, and analyzed similarly to the shells. Once standardized, the technique was applied aiming at two objectives: identification of Biomphalaria using only the shells and parasitological diagnosis for Schistosoma mansoni infection. The discrimination of the three Biomphalaria species intermediate hosts of S. mansoni only by shell has technical limit due to the scarcity of organic material. Nevertheless, it was possible to differentiate B. straminea from B. tenagophila and B. glabrata with 96% accuracy. As for the parasitological diagnosis, it was possible to differentiate infected mollusks shedding S. mansoni cercariae from the non-infected ones with 82, 5% accuracy. In conclusion, the Near Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR's) technique has proven to be an innovative and sound tool to detect infection by S. mansoni in the different species of Biomphalaria intermediate hosts.
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