Habitat and Nutrition


Taenia saginata is a parasite so its habitat and nutrition comes from another organism.  Now the Beef tapeworm has two hosts that it infects in a lifetime: the definitive host and the intermediate host. 



 The inside of Duodenum, also known as the first section of the human's small intestine.

The Definitive Host: Us! The adult worm spends most of its time in the human’s small intestine.  The scolex connects to the epithelial lining of the gut and because of the little surface area it connects to, a very immunological response occurs in the body to the tapeworm’s presence.  Taenia saginata will produce many eggs that will transported through a human's feces and passed on to the intermediate host.


The organs comprised of the human's digestive system and the gastrointestinal tract.

  The Bovine, also more commonly known as a cow, which is the intermediate host of  the Taenia saginata.

The Intermediate Host:  Cattle act as the intermediate host in the reproductive life cycle when the eggs passed through feces of the infected definitive host is ingested by the cow.  The digestive enzymes will break the thick shell of the egg and allow the zygote to form.  They zygotes then penetrate the mucous layer and enter the circulation of the bovid.  This is where the young larval stages of T. saginata form a pea-sized, fluid filled cyst, also known as “Cysticercus” and these cysts seem to form in the muscular fibers and are sometimes seen in specific organs like the lungs and liver.  


Taenia saginata photo taken by Carolyn Temanson



Nutrition is obtained by absorption across the tapeworm’s flat body membrane.  Carbohydrates from the host are the most important for T. saginata to absorb, especially in the form of polysaccharides.  This form is easiest for the worm to breakdown into the usable form of glucose. 



Now take a look at T. saginata's adaptations and how it has evolved over time to become such a good parasite!