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How Diet Affects the Production and Immunological Properties of Snail Slime
AuthorShih , Ryan
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Snail slime is a key aspect of the snail innate immune system because it has anti-microbial properties. The ability for a snail to produce high volumes of chemically complex slime plays an integral role in fighting off various pathogens. However, we have a limited understanding of how the composition of snail slime may be altered. One possibility is that snail diet affects slime volume, composition, and its anti-microbial properties. To improve our understanding of how snail diet alters slime production and defensive properties, we collected slime samples from two groups of common land snails (Cornu aspersum) over a period of six weeks. Initially, we fed both groups a diet containing a 2:1 ratio of carrots and cuttlefish bones. After collecting baseline samples, we then fed one group (n=5) a high-protein diet containing a 2:2:1 ratio of cat food, oats, and eggshells. We collected additional slime samples from both groups at two subsequent time points. We tested all slime samples to determine effectiveness at inhibiting Pseudomonas fluorescens, a bacterium known to be pathogenic to the common land snail. Unexpectedly, we found that both groups exhibited decreases protein concentrations in the snail slime following the diet treatment. We also found that snail slime appears to increase proliferation of Pseudomonas fluorescens and did not exhibit any signs of microbial inhibition. These results suggest that snail slime from Cornu aspersum may not have anti-microbial properties against Pseudomonas fluorescens as previously reported. Additional research on snail slime is warranted to further understand putative anit-microbial characteristics of the snail innate immune system.