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Posted by Alessandro on 20 Mar 2011 at 08:17 GMT

This work is important for the schistosoma community because it provides a technical template for whole mount immunofluorescence. In the past, researchers in the field have performed immunostaining and in situ hybridization mostly on sections (although there have been nice localization studies on whole mounted worms). The absence of a standardized protocol to perform whole mount immunostaining could be probably traced to the fact that the majority of schistosoma researchers are biased towards a biochemical approach. The publication of this work will hopefully guide labs around the world to study marker localization with a better resolution.
However, despite its technical value, the paper in my opinion is not very exciting and it does not dramatically impact schistosoma research.
1) It does not reveal anything unknown about the anatomy of schistosomes
2) It repeats the use of some techniques already employed in the past (e.g. phalloidin staining)
3) It does not review adequately or at all whole mount localization studies already performed (e.g. staining of nervous system with anti-neuropeptides antibodies; staining of the protonephridial system).
With respect to this last point, an impressive anti-flame cell monoclonal was published already in 1987 by Dr. Deelder`s group (De Water et al., 1987). This antibody decorating the protonephridial system in whole mounted worms (Bogers et al., 1994), was used to confirm the localization of calcineurin A in the flame cells of schistosomes at different stages (Mecozzi et al., 2000). Later Dr. Cioli`s group identified the target of this monoclonal by expression screening and produced a rabbit polyclonal version of the antibody. This polyclonal was used to study the excretory system of miracidia in a publication cited by Collins et al. (Bahia et al., 2006).
In conclusion my opinion is that the paper deserves credit for stimulating the schistosoma community and showing the kind of spatial resolution that can be achieved through whole mount studies. However it does not impact the limitations of the field in reverse genetics approaches. The problem right now is not how to characterize a phenotype (I could either use markers already available or the approaches suggested in this work). The real problem is to get phenotypes!

No competing interests declared.