Tapeworms live as internal parasites and they have to make several adjustments for the same. The following are few of the adaptations made by these tapeworms to make their life easy in their hosts.
Presence of enzymatic resistant covering
A hard covering called as tegument covers the body of these tape worms. Tegument is enzyme resistant and it protects all the internal organs from the digestive actions of the alkaline fluids of the host. On the other hand tegument is permeable to water and other nutrients.
Absence of locomotory organelles
This parasite lacks organs for locomotion. As there is no need for any locomotory organs both the adult and larval forms lack cilia or flagella.
The osmotic pressure inside the body is higher than that of the surrounding host tissue or fluid. This helps the parasite to reside conveniently in the host body.
Presence of hooks and suckers for attachment
For the attachment purpose a scolex with suckers and hooks are present. This specialised scolex serves the purpose of attachment to the epithelial lining of the host intestine so that the parasite is not ejected from the intestine due to its peristaltic contractions.
Anaerobic type of respiration
Anaerobic type of respiration is found in these parasites as the surroundings they live do not have any free oxygen. Glycogen is the chief reserve food and principal energy source. This glycogen undergoes glycolysis to produce carbon dioxide and fatty acids.
Absence of other body systems
Special circulatory system or respiratory system or sensory organs are absent. Also the nervous system is not well developed as these parasites do not need these systems.
Absence of digestive system
As the parasite lives in the places where digested food is readily available, there is no need of alimentary canal. So these parasites also lack alimentary canal and they absorb the digested food from the host through general body surface. The surface area for absorption is increased by the presence of the microvilli on the outer surface of the tegument.
Protection of zygote
The zygotes are covered by resistant, firm, shell or capsule. Also the embryos are protected from unfavorable conditions by similar coverings.
Presence of complex reproductive organs
Out of all the body systems reproductive system is very well developed. This reproductive system has the capability to produce huge number of eggs (40,000 per gravid proglottid). The reason for production of such huge number of eggs is that these parasites face many challenges for the survival.
Hermaphroditism and proglottization
Self-fertilization within the same proglottid or cross-fertilization with another proglottid of the same worm is ensured by hermaphroditism and proglottization.
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