Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



Thesis Type

College of Arts and Science Honors, Honors College

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph J. Schall

Second Advisor

Dr. Joseph Gorres

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicholas Gotelli


Life history, Monocystis, Amynthas, genetic variation, life cycle, mating system


Monocystis is a parasites in the phylum Apicomplexa that infects nearly 100% of earthworms; however, the parasites have low survivorship, low production of transmissible gametocysts, and seemingly lack schizogony. The purpose of this study was to investigate the improbable lifecycle and life history traits of a Monocystis species of the invasive Asian earthworms, Amynthas agrestis and A. tokioensis in Vermont.

Preliminary data suggested that Monocystis sp. vary in life history traits between three sites sampled; therefore, it was necessary to investigate the genetic diversity and the mating system of its host, as the mating system is responsible for genetic variation. Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA (RAPD) markers revealed genetic variation within and among sites of both Amynthas spp. which appear to employ a mixed-mating system of both sexual and asexual reproduction demonstrated by the presence of both clonal and unique genotypes.

The life history and life cycle of Monocystis sp. in A. agrestis was described by using microscopy to measure phenology and parasite stages and numbers. Amynthas spp. at Audubon had a shorter season and the parasites produced gametocysts earlier than at the other two sites. The parasite success rate at Audubon, Hort Farm, and Centennial Woods were 113.8%, 73.6%, and 0%, repectively. Audubon worms had higher numbers of gametocyts but a lower mean number of sporocysts per gametocyst (127.0) than did hosts at Hort Farm (145.8). Monocystis sp. has different life history traits and schedules to compensate for the length of the season and the genetic variation of its host.


- The full contents of this thesis are available only in the Honors College office due to a research embargo on the information.

- Full contents of this thesis will be available online in 2018.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.