The development of a Heligmosomoides polygyrus bakeri (H. polygyrus) primary infection in its definitive host was severely effected by a wide range of gamma radiation doses (10-400 Gy). Male worms were more susceptible to gamma radiation than female worms. A dose of 400 Gy prevented the development of L3 larvae to mature female worms and 200 Gy abrogated the maturation of males. At 300 Gy, a dose known to stimulate high levels of protective immunity, male worms were unable to moult to the L4 stage and females failed to develop into morphologically normal adults. An experiment to select for a radiation resistant parasite line provided data on the cumulative effects of gamma rays on successive parasite generations. Parasite fitness data demonotrated that worm development, at the level of embryogenesis, was for more sensitive to radiation damage than either post embryonic development or adult worm fecundity. The parasite line died out on the 14thgeneration of selection after receiving an accumulated dose of 420 Gy. It is concluded that gamma radiation profoundly alters the developmental biology of H. polygyrus in a dose-dependent manner, with maximal sensitivity exhibited during embryogenesis. © 1995.
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