My watch list  


For the medical condition of having an unusually small penis, see micropenis.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Platyhelminthes
Class: Trematoda
Subclass: Digenea
Order: Plagiorchiida
Family: Microphallidae
Genus: Microphallus
Ward, 1901

M. abortivus
M. bassodactylus
M. breviatus
M. claviformis
M. fonti
M. hoffmanni
M. limuli
M. nicolli
M. opacus
M. papillorobustus
M. piriformes
M. pirum
M. primas
M. pseudopygmaeus
M. pygmaeus
M. sabanensis
M. similis
M. turgidus



Microphallus is a genus of parasitic trematodes (flukes) in the family Microphallidae. The Greek name means "tiny penis".

They are parasitic on a variety of molluscs, crustaceans, birds, and mammals, some species having complex life cycles involving more than one host. For example, M. piriformes parasitizes the rough periwinkle (Littorina saxatilis); when these are eaten by herring gulls it infects the bird and lays its eggs in the bird's feces to infect new periwinkles.

Several species are notable for manipulating or influencing their hosts. M. piriformes causes its host, the rough periwinkle, to move upwards, making it more vulnerable to predation by herring gulls. M. pseudopygmaeus chemically castrates its host, the snail Onoba aculeus, and causes it to grow larger than normal (it is not clear if this gigantism benefits the host or parasite or if it is a non-adaptive side-effect). M. papillorobustus causes its host, the 'lagoon sand shrimp' (Gammarus insensibilis) to swim upwards, making it more vulnerable to predation. Some species of this genus "hitch-hike" on the manipulations of other species; for example, M. hoffmanni parasitizes the same sand shrimps as M. papillorobustus but does not manipulate the shrimps itself, instead benefiting from the latter's manipulation of the host.


  • A. M. Gorbushin and I. A. Levakin, The effect of Trematode parthenitae on the growth of Onoba aculeus, Littorina saxatilis and L. obtusata (Gastropoda: Prosobranchia), J. Mar. Biol. Ass. UK (1999) 79:273–279.
  • E. P. Levri and L. M. Fisher, The Effect of a Trematode Parasite (Microphallus Sp.) on the Response of the Freshwater Snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum to Light and Gravity, Behaviour (2000) 137(9):1141–1151.
  • F. Thomas, J. Fauchier, and K. D. Lafferty, Conflict of interest between a nematode and a trematode in an amphipod host: test of the "sabotage" hypothesis, Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. (2002) 51:296–301.
  • H. B. Ward, Notes on the parasites of lake fish III. On the structure of the copulatory organs in Microphallus nov.gen., Tr. Amer. Micr. Soc. (1901) 22:175–187.
  • Glenn Pembleton, medical specialist and life time sufferer of Microphallus. "Microphallus - Living with the Impossible; The True Story of a Medically Challenged Cunnerman" (1999) 23114–197.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Microphallus". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE