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Research article2013Peer reviewed

Population genetics of Parascaris equorum based on DNA fingerprinting

Tyden, Eva; Morrison, David; Engström, Annie; Nielsen, M.K.; Eydal, M.; Höglund, Johan


The large roundworm of horses, Parascaris equorum is considered ubiquitous in breeding operations, and is regarded as a most important helminth pathogen of foals. Over the past decade, this parasite has been reported increasingly resistant to anthelmintic drugs worldwide. This paper reports analysis of the population genetic structure of P. equorum. Adult parasites (n = 194) collected from Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Germany, Brazil and the USA were investigated by amplified restriction fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis. The genetic variation was low (Hj =0.12-0.4), for the global population of worms. This was accompanied by a weak degree of population structure (Fst = 0.2), low gene flow (Nm = 1.0) and low mutation rate (4 Nm = 0.07). Thus, the low genetic diversity is probably a result of a low mutation rate in DNA, although the gene flow (due to global movement of horses) is large enough to allow the spread of novel mutations. Surprisingly, isolates from Icelandic horses were not found to be different from other isolates, in spite of the fact that these have been isolated for thousands of years. The study indicates that the global P. equorum population is essentially homogenous, and continents do not appear to be strong barriers for the population structure of this species. Consequently, the potential spread of rare anthelmintic resistance genes may be rapid in a homogenous population.


Parascaris equorum, population genetics, AFLP

Published in

Infection, Genetics and Evolution
2013, Volume: 13, pages: 236-241