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Concept: Nematodes


Understanding the global limits of transmission of soil-transmitted helminth (STH) species is essential for quantifying the population at-risk and the burden of disease. This paper aims to define these limits on the basis of environmental and socioeconomic factors, and additionally seeks to investigate the effects of urbanisation and economic development on STH transmission, and estimate numbers at-risk of infection with Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworm in 2010.

Concepts: Disease, Infection, Nematodes, Whipworm, Hookworm, Parasitic worm, Parasitic animals, Ascaris lumbricoides


Taxonomically restricted genes (TRGs), i.e., genes that are restricted to a limited subset of phylogenetically related organisms, may be important in adaptation. In parasitic organisms, TRG-encoded proteins are possible determinants of the specificity of host-parasite interactions. In the root-knot nematode (RKN) Meloidogyne incognita, the map-1 gene family encodes expansin-like proteins that are secreted into plant tissues during parasitism, thought to act as effectors to promote successful root infection. MAP-1 proteins exhibit a modular architecture, with variable number and arrangement of 58 and 13-aa domains in their central part. Here, we address the evolutionary origins of this gene family using a combination of bioinformatics and molecular biology approaches. Map-1 genes were solely identified in one single member of the phylum Nematoda, i.e., the genus Meloidogyne, and not detected in any other nematode, thus indicating that the map-1 gene family is indeed a TRG family. A phylogenetic analysis of the distribution of map-1 genes in RKNs further showed that these genes are specifically present in species that reproduce by mitotic parthenogenesis, with the exception of M. floridensis, and could not be detected in RKNs reproducing by either meiotic parthenogenesis or amphimixis. These results highlight the divergence between mitotic and meiotic RKN species as a critical transition in the evolutionary history of these parasites. Analysis of the sequence conservation and organization of repeated domains in map-1 genes suggests that gene duplication(s) together with domain loss/duplication have contributed to the evolution of the map-1 family, and that some strong selection mechanism may be acting upon these genes to maintain their functional role(s) in the specificity of the plant-RKN interactions.

Concepts: Gene, Evolution, Biology, Organism, Species, Nematode, Nematodes, Root-knot nematode


Guarding behavior is an important activity in sub-social insects, and this behavior is believed to improve the survival of offspring. Sclerodermus harmandi (Hymenoptera: Bethylidae) is one of most powerful epizoic parasitoid wasps, and it parasitizes Monochamus alternatus, a borer of wood and also the primary vector of the pinewood nematode Bursaphelenchus xylophilus. After laying eggs, S. harmandi exhibits sub-social behavior involving the female tending the clutch of eggs until emergence (guarding behavior). In this study, the benefits of this maternal care with regard to improvements in the survival of offspring were examined. During the developmental stages, only offspring in the egg and larval stages were sensitive to guarding behavior. A positive relationship between the survival of the offspring and the duration of guarding was detected with logistic regression analysis. A female replacement experiment demonstrated that multiparous S. harmandi stepmothers showed guarding behavior and that this behavior improved the survival of the immature offspring, whereas nulliparous stepmothers failed to exhibit the guarding behavior. These results indicate that S. harmandi females display maternal care and that this behavior improves the survival of offspring.

Concepts: Better, Regression analysis, Logistic regression, Improve, Insect, Nematodes, Wasp, Bursaphelenchus xylophilus


BACKGROUND: The gene encoding PAD4 (PHYTOALEXIN-DEFICIENT4) is required in Arabidopsis for expression of several genes involved in the defense response to Pseudomonas syringae pv. maculicola. AtPAD4 (Arabidopsis thaliana PAD4) encodes a lipase-like protein that plays a regulatory role mediating salicylic acid signaling. RESULTS: We expressed the gene encoding AtPAD4 in soybean roots of composite plants to test the ability of AtPAD4 to deter plant parasitic nematode development. The transformed roots were challenged with two different plant parasitic nematode genera represented by soybean cyst nematode (SCN; Heterodera glycines) and root-knot nematode (RKN; Meloidogyne incognita). Expression of AtPAD4 in soybean roots decreased the number of mature SCN females 35 days after inoculation by 68 percent. Similarly, soybean roots expressing AtPAD4 exhibited 77 percent fewer galls when challenged with RKN. CONCLUSIONS: Our experiments show that AtPAD4 can be used in an economically important crop, soybean, to provide a measure of resistance to two different genera of nematodes.

Concepts: Parasites, Nematode, Model organism, Nematodes, Plant pathogens and diseases, Pseudomonas syringae, Root-knot nematode, Heterodera


BACKGROUND: Resistance against benzimidazoles (BZ) has recently been detected in Norwegian sheep flocks through a large scale prevalence survey based on the faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT). The use of this test in combination with bulk larval culture only gives an indication of which gastrointestinal nematodes genera that are involved and these results have to be confirmed by a controlled efficacy test (CET) to get accurate information about resistant nematodes populations at species level. A CET was therefore performed with larvae from two flocks where BZ resistance was previously detected through FECRT. RESULTS: The latter test confirmed the previous results in both flocks. In flock A, the BZ resistant nematode population consisted solely of Haemonchus contortus, whereas H. contortus and Teladorsagia circumcincta comprised the resistant worm population in flock B. CONCLUSIONS: Some discrepancies that have been recorded between FECRT and CET results regarding time for post-treatment coproscopical examination and a temporary suppression of faecal egg excretion are discussed.

Concepts: Parasites, Biology, Insect, Nematode, Nematodes, Annelid, Norway, Haemonchus contortus


BACKGROUND: Toxocarosis is a zoonotic disease caused by Toxocara canis (T. canis) and/or Toxocara cati (T. cati), two worldwide distributed roundworms which are parasites of canids and felids, respectively. Infections of humans occur through ingestion of embryonated eggs of T. canis or T. cati, when playing with soils contaminated with dogs or cats feces. Accordingly, the assessment of potential contamination of these areas with these roundworms eggs is paramount. METHODS: A duplex quantitative real-time PCR (2qPCR) targeting the ribosomal RNA gene internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) has been developed and used for rapid and specific identification of T. canis and T. cati eggs in fecal and soil samples. The assay was set up on DNA samples extracted from 53 adult worms including T. canis, T. cati, T. leonina, Ascaris suum (A. suum) and Parascaris equorum (P. equorum). The assay was used to assess the presence of T. cati eggs in several samples, including 12 clean soil samples spiked with eggs of either T. cati or A. suum, 10 actual soil samples randomly collected from playgrounds in Brussels, and fecal samples from cats, dogs, and other animals. 2qPCR results on dogs and cats fecal samples were compared with results from microscopic examination. RESULTS: 2qPCR assay allowed specific detection of T. canis and T. cati, whether adult worms, eggs spiked in soil or fecal samples. The 2qPCR limit of detection (LOD) in spiked soil samples was 2 eggs per g of soil for a turnaround time of 3 hours. A perfect concordance was observed between 2qPCR assay and microscopic examination on dogs and cats feces. CONCLUSION: The newly developed 2qPCR assay can be useful for high throughput prospective or retrospective detection of T.canis and/or T. cati eggs in fecal samples as well as in soil samples from playgrounds, parks and sandpits.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, RNA, Ribosomal RNA, Nematodes, Dog, Toxocaridae, Toxocariasis


The current antibody tests used for monitoring in lymphatic filariasis (LF) elimination programs suffer from poor specificity because of the considerable geographical overlap with other filarial infections such as Loa loa (Ll), Onchocerca volvulus (Ov), and Mansonella perstans (Mp).

Concepts: Nematodes, Parasitic diseases, Diethylcarbamazine, Filariasis, Wuchereria bancrofti, Insect-borne diseases, Loa loa filariasis, Mansonella


BACKGROUND: Dirofilaria immitis and Angiostrongylus vasorum are both important potentially fatal canine nematodes with overlapping endemic areas, especially in Europe. The preadult and adult stages of both species are living in the Arteria pulmonalis and the right heart, and diagnostically detectable circulating parasite antigens have been demonstrated for both species. For the detection of D. immitis infections, a variety of commercial tests have been developed, however, they have not been evaluated for cross-reactions against circulating antigens of A. vasorum. METHODS: In this study, potential cross-reactions of sera from 16 dogs, which were experimentally infected with A. vasorum and which had circulating antigens as confirmed by a species-specific ELISA, were evaluated for the detection of A. vasorum antigen in six commercially available D. immitis test kits. RESULTS: In three fast tests (Witness® Dirofilaria, SensPERT® Canine Heartworm, SNAP® 4Dx® Plus), all sera were negative. One fast membrane ELISA (SNAP® HTWM RT Test) was positive with four sera (25 %), and one serum delivered a non-valid result twice. In the PetChek® HTWM PF Test, depending on the interpretation protocol, 5 or 8 dogs (31.2 – 50 %) were positive. With the DiroCHEK®-ELISA, a single A. vasorum-infected dog (6.2 %) tested positive. CONCLUSIONS: Due to potential cross-reactions with A. vasorum in commercially available test kits for the detection of D. immitis antigen, the simultaneous use of highly specific diagnostic methods for the differentiation of these two canine heart worms is recommended.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Nematodes, Dog, Dirofilaria immitis, Dirofilaria, Angiostrongylus vasorum, Spirurida


Strain HA10002 was isolated from mangrove sediment collected from Dongzhaigang Mangrove Reserve in Hainan, China. It was selected with potent nematicidal activity and was identified as Streptomyces albogriseolus. By bioassay-guided fractionation, a new active component A22-1(S1) against root-knot nematodes was separated from its fermentation broth. On the basis of spectroscopic analyses and comparison with the data from correlative literature, the structure of S1 was established to be 6'-methyl-fungichromin, named as fungichromin B in this paper. The LD50 values of fungichromin B to the 2-stage juveniles of Meloidogyne incognita and Meloidogyne javanica were 7.64 and 7.83 μg/ml, respectively. Further examination demonstrated fungichromin B still showed a wide antifungal spectrum, as with fungichromin.

Concepts: Nematodes, Plant pathogens and diseases, Root-knot nematode, Meloidogyne incognita, Meloidogyne


BACKGROUND: The prevalence of infection with the three common soil-transmitted helminths (i.e. Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworm) in Bolivia is among the highest in Latin America. However, the spatial distribution and burden of soil-transmitted helminthiasis are poorly documented. METHODS: We analysed historical survey data using Bayesian geostatistical models to identify determinants of the distribution of soil-transmitted helminth infections, predict the geographical distribution of infection risk, and assess treatment needs and costs in the frame of preventive chemotherapy. Rigorous geostatistical variable selection identified the most important predictors of A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura and hookworm transmission. RESULTS: Results show that precipitation during the wettest quarter above 400 mm favours the distribution of A. lumbricoides. Altitude has a negative effect on T. trichiura. Hookworm is sensitive to temperature during the coldest month. We estimate that 38.0%, 19.3% and 11.4% of the Bolivian population is infected with A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura and hookworm, respectively. Assuming independence of the infections, 48.4% of the population is infected with any soil-transmitted helminth. Empirical-based estimates, according to treatment recommendations by the World Health Organization, suggest a total of 2.9 million annualised treatments for the control of soil-transmitted helminthiasis in Bolivia. CONCLUSIONS: We provide estimates of soil-transmitted helminth infections in Bolivia based on high-resolution spatial prediction and an innovative variable selection approach. However, the scarcity of the data suggests that a national survey is required for more accurate mapping that will govern spatial targeting of soil-transmitted helminthiasis control.

Concepts: Infection, Prediction, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Nematodes, Whipworm, Hookworm, Parasitic worm, Parasitic animals