Hymenolepis diminuta has both male and female reproductive organs in the same individual. Each segment has one complete set of male and female sex organs. As the segments move toward the posterior end of the strobilus, first the male organs mature, and produce sperm that are stored until the maturation of the ovary. Once the adult H. diminuta is embedded in the host, it can produce over 250,000 eggs per day. Thus, over a period of slightly over a year, a single tapeworm could produce a hundred million eggs and if all these eggs reached maturity, it would be equal to 20 tons of tapeworm tissue. There is an extremely low chance for each egg to reach reproductive maturity and that is why H. diminuta lays so many eggs.
Recent studies have been done on the temperature tolerance of Hymenolepis diminuta eggs. The tapeworm's eggs survived at higher and lower temperatures and for longer periods of time than did adult beetles, indicating that the thermal tolerance of the eggs does not limit the parasite's distribution.
Key Reproductive Features: simultaneous hermaphrodite; sexual
Parental Investment: no parental involvement
- Andreassen, J., E. Bennet-Jenkins, C. Bryant. 1999. Immunology and biochemistry of Hymenolepis diminuta. ADV PARASIT, 42: 223-275.
- Arai, H. 1980. Biology of the Tapeworm Hymenolepis diminuta. New York: New York Academic Press.
- Pappas, P., . Barley. APR 1999. Beetle-to-beetle transmittion and dispersal of Hymenolepis diminuta (Cestoda) eggs via the feces of Tenebrio molitor. JOURNAL OF PARASITOLOGY, 85 (2): 384-385.
- Ohio State University, 2001. "Hymenolepis diminuta" (On-line). Parasites and Parasitological Resources. Accessed 10/14/04 at http://www.biosci.ohio-state.edu/~parasite/hymenolepis_diminuta.html.
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