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Temporal range: Eocene–Recent
Biomphalaria glabrata.jpg
An albino individual of Biomphalaria glabrata
Scientific classification

Type species
Biomphalaria smithi Preston, 1910
34 species

Taphius H. Adams & A. Adams, 1855

Biomphalaria is a genus of air-breathing freshwater snails, aquatic pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the family Planorbidae, the ram's horn snails and their allies. [3]

Biomphalaria is the type genus of the tribe Biomphalariini.

Taphius is a synonym for Biomphalaria.[4]

The shell of this species, like all planorbids is sinistral in coiling, but is carried upside down and thus appears to be dextral.

Apical, apertural and umbilical view of the shell of Biomphalaria tenagophila. Scale bar is 3 mm.


As of 2008 there were recognized 34[2] extant species in the genus Biomphalaria in total (22 American species and 12 Old World species). There were also described number of fossil Biomphalaria species.

American species include:

  1. Biomphalaria amazonica Paraense, 1966
  2. Biomphalaria andecola (d'Orbigny, 1835)
  3. Biomphalaria cousini[5]
  4. Biomphalaria edisoni Estrada, Velásquez, Caldeira, Bejarano, Rojas & Carvalho, 2006[6]
  5. Biomphalaria glabrata (Say, 1818)
  6. Biomphalaria havanensis (L. Pfeiffer, 1839)
  7. Biomphalaria helophila (d'Orbigny, 1835)
  8. Biomphalaria intermedia (Paraense & Deslandes, 1962)[7]
  9. Biomphalaria kuhniana (Clessin, 1883)
  10. Biomphalaria manya Cabrera & Martinez, 2018[8]
  11. Biomphalaria obstructa
  12. Biomphalaria occidentalis Paraense, 1981[7]
  13. Biomphalaria oligoza Paraense, 1974[7]
  14. Biomphalaria orbignyi Paraense, 1975[7]
  15. Biomphalaria peregrina (d'Orbigny, 1835)[7]
  16. Biomphalaria prona
  17. Biomphalaria schrammi (Crosse, 1864)
  18. Biomphalaria straminea (Dunker, 1848)[7]
  19. Biomphalaria subprona (Martens, 1899)[9]
  20. Biomphalaria temascalensis Rangel-Ruiz, 1987
  21. Biomphalaria tenagophila (d'Orbigny, 1835)[7]

Old World (Africa, Madagascar and the Middle East) species include:

  1. Biomphalaria alexandrina
  2. Biomphalaria angulosa Mandahl-Barth, 1957
  3. Biomphalaria barthi Brown, 1973
  4. Biomphalaria camerunensis
  5. Biomphalaria choanomphala
  6. Biomphalaria pfeifferi (Krauss, 1848)
  7. Biomphalaria salinarum Morelet
  8. Biomphalaria smithi Preston, 1910 - type species
  9. Biomphalaria stanleyi (Smith, 1888)
  10. Biomphalaria sudanica (Martens, 1870)
  11. Biomphalaria tchadiensis Germain, 1904
  12. Biomphalaria ruppellii Auet. - subspecies: Biomphalaria ruppellii ruppellii Auet.[verification needed]; Biomphalaria ruppellii katangae Haas

There is one known hybrid Biomphalaria glabrata × Biomphalaria alexandrina from Egypt.[10]

A cladogram showing phylogenic relations of (23 analyzed) species in the genus Biomphalaria:[11]

African species

Biomphalaria stanleyi

Biomphalaria pfeifferi

Biomphalaria camerunensis

Nilotic species complex

Biomphalaria sudanica

Biomphalaria choanomphala

Biomphalaria alexandrina

Biomphalaria smithi

Biomphalaria glabrata

Biomphalaria straminea complex

Biomphalaria kuhniana

Biomphalaria straminea

Biomphalaria straminea

Biomphalaria intermedia

Biomphalaria amazonica

Biomphalaria sp.

Biomphalaria tenagophila

Biomphalaria occidentalis

Biomphalaria prona

Biomphalaria andecola

Biomphalaria sp. (? Biomphalaria havanensis)

Biomphalaria sp. (? Biomphalaria havanensis)

Biomphalaria temascalensis

Biomphalaria obstructa

Biomphalaria helophila

Biomphalaria peregrina

Biomphalaria schrammi


The origin of the genus Biomphalaria is American.[11] The ancestor of Biomphalaria glabrata colonized Africa 2.3–4.5[11] or 2-5[12] millions years ago and speciated into all the African Biomphalaria species.[11]

Natural populations of these snails are usually found in tropical standing water or freshwater in South America and Africa, but they also reach 30° latitude in subtropical areas. Many species of these red-blooded planorbid snails (Gastropoda: Basommatophora) are able to survive a long time when removed from their freshwater habitat. Of the 34 Biomphalaria species, 4 (Biomphalaria glabrata, Biomphalaria pfeifferi, Biomphalaria straminea, and Biomphalaria tenagophila) have recently expanded their native ranges. They have been introduced to areas where other Biomphalaria species are endemic (e.g., Congo and Egypt) or to subtropical zones that have no frost period (Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Hong Kong).[2]

All species in the genus Biomphalaria except of native Biomphalaria obstructa has not yet become established in the USA, but they are considered to represent a potentially serious threat as a pest, an invasive species which could negatively affect agriculture, natural ecosystems, human health or commerce. Therefore, it has been suggested that this species be given top national quarantine significance in the USA.[13]


This genus of snails is medically important, because the snails can carry a parasite of humans which represents a serious disease risk: the snails serve as an intermediate host (vector) for the human parasitic blood fluke, Schistosoma mansoni, that infects about 83 million people.[14]

The human disease schistosomiasis (aka snail fever) caused by all Schistosoma species (transmitted also by other snails) infects 200 million people.[15] The fluke, which is found primarily in tropical areas, infects mammals (including humans) via contact with water that contains schistosome larvae (cercariae) which have previously been released from the snail. Infection occurs via penetration of cercariae through the skin.

Eighteen species of Biomphalaria are intermediate hosts for Schistosoma mansoni; seven species of the genus have not been tested for this susceptibility and nine species are resistant.[11]

Altogether about 30 species of parasites from Africa and at least 20 species from the Neotropics are known to parasitize Biomphalaria.[11]


This article incorporates public domain text from the Majoros et al. reference.[2]

  1. ^ Preston H. B. (1910) "Addition to the non-Marine Molluscan Fauna of British and German East Africa and Lake Albert Edward". The Annals and Magazine of Natural History including zoology, botany, and geology 6(8 series, 35): 526-. 535, plate IX figure 26, 26A.
  2. ^ a b c d Majoros, G. B.; Fehér, Z.; Deli, T.; Földvári, G. (2008). "Establishment of Biomphalaria tenagophila Snails in Europe". Emerging Infectious Diseases. 14 (11): 1812–1814. doi:10.3201/eid1411.080479. PMC 2630743. PMID 18976582.
  3. ^ MolluscaBase (2018). Biomphalaria Preston, 1910. Accessed through: World Register of Marine Species at: on 2018-02-13
  4. ^ Bouchet P.; Rocroi J.-P. (2005). "Classification and Nomenclator of Gastropod Families". Malacologia. 47 (1–2): 167–168.
  5. ^ Teodoro, T. M.; Janotti-Passos, L. K.; Carvalho, O. D. S.; Caldeira, R. L. (2010). "Occurrence of Biomphalaria cousini (Mollusca: Gastropoda) in Brazil and its susceptibility to Schistosoma mansoni (Platyhelminths: Trematoda)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 57 (1): 144–151. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.05.019. PMID 20580934.
  6. ^ Estrada, V. E.; Velásquez, L. E.; Caldeira, R. L.; Bejarano, E. E.; Rojas, W.; Carvalho, O. S. (2006). "Phylogenetics of South American Biomphalaria and description of a new species (Gastropoda: Planorbidae)". Journal of Molluscan Studies. 72 (3): 221–228. doi:10.1093/mollus/eyl003.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Rumi A., Gregoric D. E. G., Núñez V. & Darrigran G. A. (2008). "Malacología Latinoamericana. Moluscos de agua dulce de Argentina". Revista de Biología Tropical 56(1): 77-111. HTM.
  8. ^ Cabrera & Martinez (2018). "A new species of Biomphalaria Preston, 1910, Gastropoda Planorbidae, from the Upper Cretaceous of Uruguay". Revista Brasileira de Paleontologia.
  9. ^ Paraense, W Lobato (1996). "Biomphalaria subprona (Martens, 1899) (Gastropoda: Planorbidae)". Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz. 91 (2): 187–190. doi:10.1590/S0074-02761996000200011.
  10. ^ Yousif, F.; Ibrahim, A.; Abdel Kader, A.; El-Bardicy, S. (1998). "Invasion of the Nile Valley in Egypt by a hybrid of Biomphalaria glabrata and Biomphalaria alexandrina, snail vectors of Schistosoma mansoni". Journal of the Egyptian Society of Parasitology. 28 (2): 569–582. PMID 9707685.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Dejong, R. J.; Morgan, J. A.; Paraense, W. L.; Pointier, J. P.; Amarista, M.; Ayeh-Kumi, P. F.; Babiker, A.; Barbosa, C. S.; Brémond, P.; Pedro Canese, A.; De Souza, C. P.; Dominguez, C.; File, S.; Gutierrez, A.; Incani, R. N.; Kawano, T.; Kazibwe, F.; Kpikpi, J.; Lwambo, N. J.; Mimpfoundi, R.; Njiokou, F.; Noël Poda, J.; Sene, M.; Velásquez, L. E.; Yong, M.; Adema, C. M.; Hofkin, B. V.; Mkoji, G. M.; Loker, E. S. (2001). "Evolutionary relationships and biogeography of Biomphalaria (Gastropoda: Planorbidae) with implications regarding its role as host of the human bloodfluke, Schistosoma mansoni". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 18 (12): 2225–2239. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a003769. PMID 11719572., text.
  12. ^ Morgan, J. A. T.; Dejong, R. J.; Snyder, S. D.; Mkoji, G. M.; Loker, E. S. (2003). "Schistosoma mansoni and Biomphalaria: Past history and future trends". Parasitology. 123 (7): S211–28. doi:10.1017/S0031182001007703. PMID 11769285./
  13. ^ Cowie R. H., Dillon R. T., Robinson D. G. & Smith J. W. (2009). "Alien non-marine snails and slugs of priority quarantine importance in the United States: A preliminary risk assessment". American Malacological Bulletin 27: 113-132. PDF Archived 16 June 2016 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ Crompton, D. W. (1999). "How much human helminthiasis is there in the world?" (PDF). The Journal of Parasitology. 85 (3): 397–403. doi:10.2307/3285768. JSTOR 3285768. PMID 10386428. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 February 2010.
  15. ^ The Carter Center "Schistosomiasis Control Program". Accessed 20 November 2009.

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