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Concept: Parasites


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


Despite their wide occurrence, cryptosporidiosis and giardiasis are considered neglected diseases by the World Health Organization. The epidemiology of these diseases and microsporidiosis in humans in developing countries is poorly understood. The high concentration of pathogens in raw sewage makes the characterization of the transmission of these pathogens simple through the genotype and subtype analysis of a small number of samples.

Concepts: AIDS, Genetics, Epidemiology, Parasites, Wastewater, World Health Organization, Microsporidiosis, Enterocytozoon bieneusi


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


The impact of salmon lice on the survival of migrating Atlantic salmon smolts was studied by comparing the adult returns of sea-ranched smolts treated for sea lice using emamectin benzoate or substance EX with untreated control groups in the River Dale in western Norway. A total of 143 500 smolts were released in 35 release groups in freshwater from 1997 to 2009 and in the fjord system from 2007 to 2009. The adult recaptures declined gradually with release year and reached minimum levels in 2007. This development corresponded with poor marine growth and increased age at maturity of ranched salmon and in three monitored salmon populations and indicated unfavourable conditions in the Norwegian Sea. The recapture rate of treated smolts was significantly higher than the controls in three of the releases performed: the only release in 1997, one of three in 2002 and the only group released in sea water in 2007. The effect of treating the smolts against salmon lice was smaller than the variability in return rates between release groups, and much smaller that variability between release years, but its overall contribution was still significant (P < 0.05) and equivalent to an odds ratio of the probability of being recaptured of 1.17 in favour of the treated smolts. Control fish also tended to be smaller as grilse (P = 0.057), possibly due to a sublethal effect of salmon lice.

Concepts: Parasites, Salmon, Norway, Atlantic salmon, Salmo, Tasmania, Sea louse, Salmon louse


In this study, Entamoeba histolytica had high prevalence and unusual presentation by affecting high proportion of infants under 1 year; severe clinical manifestations, and laboratory findings that were known to be usually encountered in invasive amebiasis as significant leukocytosis for age, neutrophilic leukocytosis for age, and positive C-reactive protein were found among more than 50% of admitted Saudi infants and children with E. histolytica infection in our locality. E. histolytica can be a re-emerging serious infection when it finds favorable environmental conditions and host factors which are mainly attributed to inadequate breastfeeding in this study. This may occur in any other area of the world with the same risk factors, so we must be ready to tackle it with effective and more powerful preventive measures.

Concepts: Parasites, Medical statistics, Entamoeba histolytica, Amoebic dysentery, Amoebozoa, Entamoeba, Dysentery, Amoebiasis


Solanum torvum Sw is worldwide employed as rootstock for eggplant cultivation because of its vigour and resistance/tolerance to the most serious soil-borne diseases as bacterial, fungal wilts and root-knot nematodes. The little information on Solanum torvum (hereafter Torvum) resistance mechanisms, is mostly attributable to the lack of genomic tools (e.g. dedicated microarray) as well as to the paucity of database information limiting high-throughput expression studies in Torvum.

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


Phthiriasis palpebrarum is an infestation of the eyelashes caused by the louse Pthirus pubis (Linnaeus, 1758). We report a case of phthiriasis palpebrarum in a 6-year-old girl, which was initially misdiagnosed as allergic blepharoconjunctivitis. Parasites and their nits were found adhering to the eyelashes and eyelids of her right eye as well as scalp hairs. No abnormality was found in the left eye. The histopathology exam revealed the presence of adults and eggs of Pthirus pubis. We mechanically removed all the eyelashes of the right eye at their base, with lice and nits. The scalp was shaved and washed with phenothrin shampoo. No recurrence was found during 3 months of follow-up. Removal of the eyelashes, cutting of scalp hairs, and phenothrin shampoo may be effective in treating phthiriasis palpebrarum. In cases of blepharoconjunctivitis, eyelids and eyelashes should be carefully examined by slit lamp to avoid misdiagnosis.

Concepts: Parasites, Left-wing politics, Louse, Nit


Remains of parasites in vertebrates are rare from the Mesozoic and Paleozoic. Once most parasites that live in - or pass through - the gastrointestinal tract of vertebrates, fossil feces (coprolites) or even intestinal contents (enterolites) can eventually preserve their remains. Here we announce the discovery of a spiral shark coprolite from the Paleozoic bearing a cluster of 93 small oval-elliptical smooth-shelled structures, interpreted as eggs of a tapeworm.The eggs were found in a thin section of an elasmobranch coprolite. Most of the eggs are filled by pyrite and some have a special polar swelling (operculum), suggesting they are non-erupted eggs. One of the eggs contains a probable developing larva. The eggs are approximately 145-155 µm in length and 88-100 µm in width and vary little in size within the cluster. The depositional and morphological features of the eggs closely resemble those of cestodes. Not only do the individual eggs have features of extant tapeworms, but their deposition all together in an elongate segment is typical to modern tapeworm eggs deposited in mature segments (proglottids). This is the earliest fossil record of tapeworm parasitism of vertebrates and establishes a timeline for the evolution of cestodes. This discovery shows that the fossil record of vertebrate intestinal parasites is much older than was hitherto known and that the interaction between tapeworms and vertebrates occurred at least since the Middle-Late Permian.

Concepts: Parasites, Fish, Geology, Fossil, Paleontology, Dinosaur, Trace fossil, Coprolite


Trichuris trichiura is a human parasitic whipworm infecting around 500 million people globally, damaging the physical growth and educational performance of those infected. Current drug treatment options are limited and lack efficacy against the worm, preventing an eradication programme. It is therefore important to develop new treatments for trichuriasis. Using Trichuris muris, an established model for T. trichiura, we screened a library of 480 novel drug-like small molecules for compounds causing paralysis of the ex vivo adult parasite. We identified a class of dihydrobenz[e][1,4]oxazepin-2(3H)-one compounds with anthelmintic activity against T. muris. Further screening of structurally related compounds and resynthesis of the most potent molecules led to the identification of 20 active dihydrobenzoxazepinones, a class of molecule not previously implicated in nematode control. The most active immobilise adult T. muris with EC50 values around 25-50μM, comparable to the existing anthelmintic levamisole. The best compounds from this chemotype show low cytotoxicity against murine gut epithelial cells, demonstrating selectivity for the parasite. Developing a novel oral pharmaceutical treatment for a neglected disease and deploying it via mass drug administration is challenging. Interestingly, the dihydrobenzoxazepinone OX02983 reduces the ability of embryonated T. muris eggs to establish infection in the mouse host in vivo. Complementing the potential development of dihydrobenzoxazepinones as an oral anthelmintic, this supports an alternative strategy of developing a therapeutic that acts in the environment, perhaps via a spray, to interrupt the parasite lifecycle. Together these results show that the dihydrobenzoxazepinones are a new class of anthelmintic, active against both egg and adult stages of Trichuris parasites. They demonstrate encouraging selectivity for the parasite, and importantly show considerable scope for further optimisation to improve potency and pharmacokinetic properties with the aim of developing a clinical agent.

Concepts: Parasites, Infection, In vivo, Parasitism, Nematodes, Whipworm, Trichuris, Trichuridae


The sensitivity of larval paralysis assay (LPA) and 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide-formazan (MTT-formazan) assay was compared to evaluate the anthelmintic activity of plant extracts. In this study, the methanolic extract of Azadirachta indica (neem) was evaluated for its activity against the infective-stage larvae (L(3)) of susceptible and resistant Haemonchus contortus strains using the two aforementioned assays. In both in vitro assays, the same serial concentrations of the extract were used, and the median lethal concentrations were determined to compare the sensitivity of both assays. The results revealed a significant difference (P < 0.05) in the sensitivity of the LPA and the MTT-formazan assay. The MTT-formazan assay is more feasible for practical applications because it measured the L(3) mortality more accurately than LPA. This study may help find a suitable assay for investigating the anthelmintic activity of plant extracts against trichostrongylid nematodes.

Concepts: Parasites, Nematode, Nematodes, Annelid, Haemonchus contortus, Neem, Meliaceae, Azadirachta