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Research article2022Peer reviewedOpen access

Parasitic strongyle nemabiome communities in wild ruminants in Sweden

Halvarsson, Peter; Baltrusis, Paulius; Kjellander, Petter; Hoglund, Johan


Background: Wildlife hosts may serve as reservoirs for strongyles, which can be transmitted to domestic livestock. Therefore, studies evaluating nemabiome compositions in wildlife ruminants are of great use in assessing the possibility of transmission of important nematode pathogens to domestic sheep in Sweden.Methods: First, fecal samples were collected from roe deer (n = 125), fallow deer (n = 106), red deer (n = 18) and mouflon (n = 13) in south central Sweden during the hunting season in 2019. Second, after fecal examination samples were cultured and the larvae were harvested, followed by DNA extractions. Third, all samples were barcoded and processed for sequence analysis on the PacBio platform. Finally, bioinformatic sequence analysis was conducted with DADA2, while species diversity and richness, as well as interactions between the different hosts, were calculated and analyzed in R.Results: Nematode ITS2 sequences were found in 225 of 262 (86%) samples. In total, 31 taxa were identified, among which 26 (86%) to the species level. These were found in different combinations, among which 24 (77%) occurred in roe deer, 19 (61%) in fallow deer, 20 (65%) in red deer and 10 (32%) in mouflon. Five of the species found are known to be associated with livestock (Chabertia ovina, Haemonchus contortus, Oesophagostomum venulosum, Teladorsagia circumcincta and Trichostrongylus axei). However, in the present study the relative abundance and prevalence of most of these species were low. The most striking exception was T axei, which was relatively abundant in all wildlife hosts. Mostly a wide range of wildlife specific nematodes such as Ostertagia leptospicularis and Spiculopteragia spp. were identified including the invasive nematode Spiculopteragia houdemeri, which was found for the first time in red deer, fallow deer, and mouflon in Sweden. The difference in the number of shared species between mouflon and all cervids (n = 6) was less than among all three cervids (n= 8).Conclusion: In this study, we investigated the community structure of parasitic intestinal nematodes in four wildlife hosts, and we found that the majority of the parasite species identified were wildlife specific. We also found a new, potentially invasive species not reported before. After comparing the nemabiome of the wildlife hosts in this study with a previous study in sheep from the same geographical region, we conclude that the horizontal transmission potential appears to be relatively low. Still, cross-infections of nematodes between game and sheep cannot be completely ignored.


Nemabiome; Metabarcoding; Helminth; Gastrointestinal parasites; Ungulates; Invasive species; Biodiversity

Published in

Parasites and Vectors
2022, Volume: 15, article number: 341
Publisher: BMC