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Journal: Parasitology


Head lice transmit to new hosts when people lean their heads together. Humans frequently touch their heads to express friendship or love, while this behaviour is absent in apes. We hypothesize that this behaviour was adaptive because it enabled people to acquire head lice infestations as early as possible to provoke an immune response effective against both head lice and body lice throughout the subsequent periods of their life. This cross-immunity could provide some defence against the body-louse-borne lethal diseases like epidemic typhus, trench fever, relapsing fever and the classical plague. Thus the human ‘touching heads’ behaviour probably acts as an inherent and unconscious ‘vaccination’ against body lice to reduce the threat exposed by the pathogens they may transmit. Recently, the eradication of body-louse-borne diseases rendered the transmission of head lice a maladaptive, though still widespread, behaviour in developed societies.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Pediculosis, Louse


SUMMARY Parasites are known to affect the predatory behaviour or diet of their hosts. In relation to biological invasions, parasites may significantly influence the invasiveness of the host population and/or mediate the relationships between the invader and the invaded community. Dikerogammarus villosus, a recently introduced species, has had a major impact in European rivers. Notably, its high position in trophic web and high predatory behaviour, have both facilitated its invasive success, and affected other macroinvertebrate taxa in colonized habitats. The intracellular parasite Cucumispora dikerogammari, specific to D. villosus, has successfully dispersed together with this amphipod. Data presented here have shown that D. villosus infected by this parasite have a reduced predatory behaviour compared with healthy individuals, and are much more active suggesting that the co-invasive parasite may diminish the predatory pressure of D. villosus on newly colonized communities.

Concepts: Species, Fungus, Ecology, Crustacean, Invasive species, Introduced species, Malacostraca, Amphipoda


SUMMARY Ivermectin (IVE), one of the most important anthelmintics, is often used in the treatment of haemonchosis in ruminants. The objective of our work was (1) to find and identify phase I and II metabolites of IVE formed by the Barber’s pole worm (Haemonchus contortus), and (2) to compare IVE metabolites in helminths with IVE biotransformation in sheep (Ovis aries) as host species. Ultrahigh-performance liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (UHPLC/MS/MS) was used for this purpose. During in vitro incubations, microsomes (from adult worms or from ovine liver) and a primary culture of ovine hepatocytes were incubated with IVE. In the ex vivo study, living H. contortus adults were incubated in the presence of 1 μM IVE for 24 h. The results showed that the H. contortus enzymatic system is not able to metabolize IVE. On the other hand, 7 different phase I as well as 9 phase II IVE metabolites were detected in ovine samples using UHPLC/MS/MS analyses. Most of these metabolites have not been described before. Haemonchus contortus is not able to deactivate IVE through biotransformation; therefore, biotransformation does not contribute to the development of IVE-resistance in the Barber’s pole worm.

Concepts: Metabolism, In vivo, Domestic sheep, Haemonchus contortus, Ovis, Sheep, Mouflon, Barber's pole


SUMMARY Current treatments for different clinical forms of leishmaniasis are unsatisfactory, highly toxic and associated with increasing failure rates resulting from the emergence of resistant parasites. Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis is the main aetiological agent of different clinical forms of American tegumentary leishmaniasis, including the mucosal form for which treatment has high failure rates. The aim of this work was to investigate the activity of the Morita-Baylis-Hillman adduct, methyl 2-{2-[hydroxy(2-nitrophenyl)methyl])acryloyloxy} benzoate in vitro against isolates of L. (V.) braziliensis obtained from patients with different clinical manifestations of tegumentary leishmaniasis: localized cutaneous leishmaniasis, mucosal leishmaniasis and disseminated cutaneous leishmaniasis. The adduct effectively inhibited the growth of promastigotes of the different isolates of L. (V.) braziliensis (IC50 ⩽ 7·77 μg/ml), as well as reduced the infection rate of macrophages infected with these parasites (EC50 ⩽ 1·37 μg/ml). It is remarkable to state that the adduct was more effective against intracellular amastigotes (P ⩽ 0·0045). The anti-amastigote activity correlated with an immunomodulatory effect, since the adduct was able to decrease the production of IL-6 and IL-10 by the infected macrophages. However, its effect was independent of nitric oxide production. This work demonstrates the anti-leishmanial activity of methyl 2-{2-[hydroxy(2-nitrophenyl)methyl])acryloyloxy} benzoate and suggests its potential in the treatment of human infections caused by L. (V.) braziliensis.

Concepts: Immune system, Infection, Effectiveness, Transmission and infection of H5N1, Nitric oxide, Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous leishmaniasis, Leishmania


SUMMARY Following the recent description of microfilariae of a Cercopithifilaria sp. in a dog from Sicily, Italy, (herein after referred to as Cercopithifilaria sp. I), numerous skin samples were collected from dogs in the Mediterranean region. In addition to Cercopithifilaria sp. I (185·7 ± 7·2 μm long), microfilariae of 2 other species were identified, namely Cercopithifilaria grassii (651·7 ± 23·6 μm long) and a yet undescribed microfilaria, Cercopithifilaria sp. II (264·4 ± 20·2 μm long, with evident lateral alae). The morphological differentiation among the 3 species of dermal microfilariae was confirmed by differences in cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 and ribosomal 12S sequences examined (mean level of interspecific pairwise distance of 11·4%, and 17·7%, respectively). Phylogenetic analyses were concordant in clustering these with other sequences of Cercopithifilaria spp. to the exclusion of Dirofilaria spp., Onchocerca spp. and Acanthocheilonema spp. Dermal microfilariae collected (n = 132) were morphologically identified as Cercopithifilaria sp. I (n = 108, 81·8%), Cercopithifilaria sp. II (n = 17, 12·9%), whereas only 7 (5·3%) were identified as C. grassii. Mixed infestations were detected in all sites examined. The great diversity of these neglected filarioids in dogs is of biological interest, considering the complex interactions occurring among hosts, ticks and Cercopithifilaria spp. in different environments.

Concepts: Species, Mediterranean Sea, Turkey, Dog, Mediterranean climate, Cytochrome c, Mediterranean Basin, History of the Mediterranean region


SUMMARY The potato cyst nematodes (PCN) Globodera pallida and G. rostochiensis are major pests of potatoes. The G. pallida (and G. rostochiensis) life cycle includes both diapause and quiescent stages. Nematodes in dormancy (diapause or quiescent) are adapted for long-term survival and are more resistant to nematicides. This study analysed the mechanisms underlying diapause and quiescence. The effects of several compounds (8Br-cGMP, oxotremorine and atropine) on the activation of hatching were studied. The measurements of some morphometric parameters in diapaused and quiescent eggs after exposure to PRD revealed differences in dorsal gland length, subventral gland length and dorsal gland nucleolus. In addition, the expression of 2 effectors (IVg9 and cellulase) was not induced in diapaused eggs in water or PRD, while expression was slightly induced in quiescent eggs. Finally, we performed a comparative study to identify orthologues of C. elegans diapause related genes in plant-parasitic nematodes (G. pallida, Meloidogyne incognita, M. hapla and Bursaphelenchus xylophilus). This analysis suggested that it was not possible to identify G. pallida orthologues of the majority of C. elegans genes involved in the control of dauer formation. All these data suggest that G. pallida may use different mechanisms to C. elegans in regulating the survival stage.

Concepts: Parasites, RNA, Caenorhabditis elegans, Nematode, Model organism, Nematodes, Plant pathogens and diseases, Potato cyst nematode


SUMMARY Molecular phylogeography has revolutionised our ability to infer past biogeographic events from cross-sectional data on current parasite populations. In ecological parasitology, this approach has been used to address fundamental questions concerning host-parasite co-evolution and geographic patterns of spread, and has raised many technical issues and problems of interpretation. For applied parasitologists, the added complexity inherent in adding population genetic structure to perceived parasite distributions can sometimes seem to cloud rather than clarify approaches to control. In this paper, we use case studies firstly to illustrate the potential extent of cryptic diversity in parasite and parasitoid populations, secondly to consider how anthropogenic influences including movement of domestic animals affect the geographic distribution and host associations of parasite genotypes, and thirdly to explore the applied relevance of these processes to parasites of socio-economic importance. The contribution of phylogeographic approaches to deeper understanding of parasite biology in these cases is assessed. Thus, molecular data on the emerging parasites Angiostrongylus vasorum in dogs and wild canids, and the myiasis-causing flies Lucilia spp. in sheep and Cochliomyia hominovorax in humans, lead to clear implications for control efforts to limit global spread. Broader applications of molecular phylogeography to understanding parasite distributions in an era of rapid global change are also discussed.

Concepts: Genetics, Biology, Parasitism, Parasitoid, Phylogeography, Parasitology, Biogeography, Angiostrongylus vasorum


SUMMARY Brugia malayi is one of the parasitic worms which causes lymphatic filariasis in humans. Its geographical distribution includes a large part of Asia. Despite its wide distribution, very little is known about the genetic variation and molecular epidemiology of this species. In this study, the internal transcribed spacer 1 (ITS1) nucleotide sequences of B. malayi from microfilaria-positive human blood samples in Northeast Borneo Island were determined, and compared with published ITS1 sequences of B. malayi isolated from cats and humans in Thailand. Multiple alignment analysis revealed that B. malayi ITS1 sequences from Northeast Borneo were more similar to each other than to those from Thailand. Phylogenetic trees inferred using Neighbour-Joining and Maximum Parsimony methods showed similar topology, with 2 distinct B. malayi clusters. The first cluster consisted of Northeast Borneo B. malayi isolates, whereas the second consisted of the Thailand isolates. The findings of this study suggest that B. malayi in Borneo Island has diverged significantly from those of mainland Asia, and this has implications for the diagnosis of B. malayi infection across the region using ITS1-based molecular techniques.

Concepts: DNA, Species, Sequence, Phylogenetic tree, Phylogenetics, Diethylcarbamazine, Brugia timori, Brugia malayi


SUMMARY Species introduced into new areas often show a reduction in parasite and genetic diversity associated to the limited number of founding individuals. In this study, we compared microsatellite and parasite diversity in both native (lower Danube) and introduced populations of 4 Ponto-Caspian gobies, including those (1) introduced from within the same river system (middle Danube; Neogobius kessleri and N. melanostomus), and (2) introduced from a different river system (River Vistula; N. fluviatilis and N. gymnotrachelus). Microsatellite data confirmed the lower Danube as a source population for gobies introduced into the middle Danube. Both native and introduced (same river system) populations of N. kessleri and N. melanostomus had comparable parasite species richness and microsatellite diversity, possibly due to multiple and/or continual migration/introduction of new individuals and the acquisition of local parasites. Reduced parasite species richness and microsatellite diversity were observed in introduced (different river system) populations in the Vistula. A low number of colonists found for N. fluviatilis and N. gymnotrachelus in the Vistula potentially resulted in reduced introduction of parasite species. Insufficient adaptation of the introduced host to local parasite fauna, together with introduction into an historically different drainage system, may also have contributed to the reduced parasite fauna.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Symbiosis, River, Rhine, Romania, Danube, Danube Delta


SUMMARY Miracidia are short-lived, non-feeding (lecithotrophic) free-living stages of trematodes, whose survival is potentially influenced by temperature. Climate change may result in elevated temperatures affecting trematode transmission. Therefore understanding their thermobiology forms an important step in determining the future dynamics of parasite populations. An empirical relationship exists between the mean expected life span of lecithotrophic larvae and the half life of their population (t 0·5 ) and therefore t 0·5 is a good indicator of glycogen utilization. In this study experimental data on the effects of temperature on miracidial survival were compiled from the scientific literature and evaluated in terms of metabolism using Q 10 and Arrhenius activation energy (E* or μ). Temperature poorly influenced survival/metabolism with all miracidia having distinct zone(s) of thermostability. Overall there were few differences in Q 10 and E* values between most species temperature ranges whilst there were only limited strain-specific variations in thermal responses of laboratory-maintained Schistosoma mansoni. Miracidia demonstrated a trend of greater thermal resistance than cercariae. In particular, comparative studies on 4 strains of the same species of miracidia and cercariae showed little correlation in thermal biology between the 2 life-history stages. The importance of these results for trematode transmission under global climate change is discussed.

Concepts: Climate, Weather, Schistosoma, Digenea, Temperature, Heat, Trematoda, Miracidium