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According to mitochondrial DNA evidence, Parascaris equorum and Parascaris univalens may represent the same species

  • J.F. Gao (a1) (a2) (a3), X.X. Zhang (a2), X.X. Wang (a2), Q. Li (a2), Y. Li (a2), W.W. Xu (a2), Y. Gao (a2) and C.R. Wang (a1) (a2)...


Parascarosis is caused mainly by parasitic infections with Parascaris equorum and Parascaris univalens, the most common ascarid nematodes, in the small intestine of equines. Parascarosis often causes severe illness and even death in foals and yearlings. In this study, we obtained the complete sequence of the P. equorum mitochondrial (mt) genome and compared its organization and structure with that of P. equorum Japan isolate (nearly complete), and the complete mtDNA sequences of P. univalens Switzerland and USA isolates. The complete mtDNA genome of P. equorum China isolate is 13,899 base pairs (bp), making it the smallest of the four genomes. All four Parascaris mt genomes are circular, and all genes are transcribed in the same direction. The P. equorum mtDNA genome consists of 12 protein-coding genes, two ribosomal RNA genes, 22 transfer (t) RNA genes and one non-coding region, which is consistent with P. equorum Japan isolate and P. univalens Switzerland isolate but distinct from P. univalens USA isolate, which has 20 tRNA genes. Differences in nucleotide sequences of the four entire mt genomes range from 0.1–0.9%, and differences in total amino acid sequences of protein-coding genes are 0.2–2.1%. Phylogenetic analyses showed that the four Parascaris species clustered in a clade, indicating that P. equorum and P. univalens are very closely related. These mt genome datasets provide genetic evidence that P. equorum and P. univalens may represent the same species, which will be of use in further studies of the taxonomy, systematics and population genetics of ascarids and other nematodes.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: C.R. Wang, E-mail:


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