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Understanding the role of species traits in mediating ecological interactions and shaping community structure is a key question in ecology. In this sense, parasite population parameters allow us to estimate the functional importance of traits in shaping the strength of interactions among hosts and parasites in a network. The aim of this study was to survey and analyse the small mammal-helminth network in a forest reserve of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest in order to understand (i) how functional traits (type of parasite life cycle, site of infection in their host, host and parasite body length, host diet, host locomotor habit and host activity period) and abundance influence host–parasite interactions, (ii) whether these traits explain species roles, and (iii) if this relationship is consistent across different parasite population parameters (presence and absence, mean abundance and prevalence). Networks were modular and their structural patterns did not vary among the population parameters. Functional traits and abundance shaped the interactions observed between parasites and hosts. Host species abundance, host diet and locomotor habit affected their centrality and/or vulnerability to parasites. For helminths, infection niche was the main trait determining their central roles in the networks.
The continuous use of synthetic anthelmintics against gastrointestinal nematodes (GINs) has resulted in the increased resistance, which is why alternative methods are being sought, such as the use of natural products. Plant essential oils (EOs) have been considered as potential products for the control of GINs. However, the chemical composition and, consequently, the biological activity of EOs vary in different plant cultivars. The aim of this study was to evaluate the anthelmintic activity of EOs from cultivars of Ocimum basilicum L. and that of their major constituents against Haemonchus contortus. The EOs from 16 cultivars as well the pure compound linalool, methyl chavicol, citral and eugenol were used in the assessment of the inhibition of H. contortus egg hatch. In addition, the composition of three cultivars was simulated using a combination of the two major compounds from each. The EOs from different cultivars showed mean Inhibition Concentration (IC50) varying from 0.56 to 2.22 mg/mL. The cultivar with the highest egg-hatch inhibition, Napoletano, is constituted mainly of linalool and methyl chavicol. Among the individual compounds tested, citral was the most effective (IC50 0.30 mg/mL). The best combination of compounds was obtained with 11% eugenol plus 64% linalool (IC50 0.44 mg/mL), simulating the Italian Large Leaf (Richters) cultivar. We conclude that different cultivars of O. basilicum show different anthelmintic potential, with cultivars containing linalool and methyl chavicol being the most promising; and that citral or methyl chavicol isolated should also be considered for the development of new anthelmintic formulations.
Helminth infections in wood mice (n = 483), trapped over a period of 26 years in the woods surrounding Malham Tarn in North Yorkshire, were analysed. Although 10 species of helminths were identified, the overall mean species richness was 1.01 species/mouse indicating that the helminth community was relatively depauperate in this wood mouse population. The dominant species was Heligmosomoides polygyrus, the prevalence (64.6%) and abundance (10.4 worms/mouse) of which declined significantly over the study period. Because of the dominance of this species, analyses of higher taxa (combined helminths and combined nematodes) also revealed significantly declining values for prevalence, although not abundance. Helminth species richness (HSR) and Brillouin's index of diversity (BID) did not show covariance with year, neither did those remaining species whose overall prevalence exceeded 5% (Syphacia stroma, Aonchotheca murissylvatici and Plagiorchis muris). Significant age effects were detected for the prevalence and abundance of all higher taxa, H. polygyrus and P. muris, and for HSR and BID, reflecting the accumulation of helminths with increasing host age. Only two cases of sex bias were found; male bias in abundance of P. muris and combined Digenea. We discuss the significance of these results and hypothesize about the underlying causes.
Cattle production in extensive systems favours the occurrence of gastrointestinal nematodes, and the use of nematophagous fungi complements the control strategies for these nematodes. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of the fungi Arthrobotrys cladodes and Pochonia chlamydosporia in the biological control of gastrointestinal parasitic nematodes in grazing cattle. Twenty-four calves were randomly divided into four groups and allocated to independent paddocks from February 2018 to January 2019. In the first group, the animals received pellets containing P. chlamydosporia. In the second group, the animals received pellets containing A. cladodes. In the third group, the animals received pellets containing a combination of the fungi A. cladodes and P. chlamydosporia. In the control group, the animals received pellets without fungus. The combined use of A. cladodes and P. chlamydosporia showed greater efficacy in the biological control of bovine gastrointestinal parasitic nematodes than the same fungi used separately. The parasite load was lower and weight gain was greater (P ⩽ 0.05) in the groups of cattle treated with nematophagous fungi. Therefore, the use of A. cladodes and P. chlamydosporia is promising in the biological control of nematodiosis in cattle.
Variations in temperature can affect the development of nematophagous fungi, especially when they are used in the biological control of parasitic nematodes in the pastures where cattle are reared. The aim of this work was to evaluate the effects of temperature on the performance of nematophagous fungi in the biological control of bovine parasitic nematodes. The mycelial growth, chlamydospore production and nematicidal activity of Duddingtonia flagrans, Arthrobotrys cladodes and Pochonia chlamydosporia were evaluated at 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35°C. The fungal strains achieved mycelial growth, chlamydospore production and nematicidal activity on parasitic nematodes under all temperature conditions tested. The fungi showed higher growth at intermediate temperatures (20, 25 and 30°C) than at the extremes of 15 and 35°C. At 25 and 30°C, D. flagrans realized 96.8 and 94.5% nematicidal activity on bovine parasitic nematodes, respectively. Arthrobotrys cladodes effected nematicidal activity of 85.3 and 83.5%, at 20 and 25°C, respectively. At 20 and 30°C, P. chlamydosporia achieved nematicidal activity of 81.3 and 87.4%, respectively. The maximum chlamydospore production was reached at 20, 25 and 30°C for D. flagrans, at 20 and 25°C for A. cladodes and P. chlamydosporia. The results of this study demonstrated that the tested fungal strains of D. flagrans, A. cladodes and P. chlamydosporia, when used in the biological control of bovine parasitic nematodes, were not limited by in vitro temperature variations. Therefore, the use of these strains of fungi as biological control agents of parasitic nematodes is promising.
Degradation and habitat loss of natural grasslands in Southern Brazil has a negative impact on native organisms, potentially including the composition of anuran helminth communities. Here, we characterized the richness, abundance, taxonomic composition, prevalence and intensity of helminth infection in four anuran species. Host anurans were collected in 34 ponds (19 in native grasslands with livestock and 15 in agricultural cultivation) from the highland grasslands in the Brazilian states of Santa Catarina and Paraná. Our results showed a significant difference between native grasslands with livestock and agricultural cultivation regarding the structure of helminth communities for the hosts Aplastodiscus perviridis and Pseudis cardosoi. We also found a greater prevalence and intensity of infection in anurans in areas of agricultural cultivation than in native grasslands with livestock. We found that the environmental descriptors (local and landscape) seem to explain most of the differences in anuran parasitism recorded between native grasslands with livestock and agricultural areas. Thus, we emphasized that the loss of grassy habitat due to conversion to agricultural cultivation can alter helminth communities in anurans, with further work needed to understand the mechanisms involved.
Rhabdias pocoto n. sp. is herein described from the lungs of the swamp frog Pseudopaludicola pocoto Magalhães, Loebmann, Nogueira, Kokubum, Baptista, Haddad & Garda, 2014, from the Caatinga biome in the state of Ceará, in north-eastern Brazil. The new species is characterized by a body that dilates posteriorly, six small lips (protuberances) and two rounded lateral expansions of cuticular inflation on the anterior end, each containing an amorphous gland-like structure inside and a short and conical tail. Additionally, molecular analysis and comparison of the partial mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I sequence of R. pocoto n. sp. revealed genetic divergence between the new species and the sequences of Rhabdias spp. previously deposited in GenBank. Phylogenetic analysis grouped the new taxon into the R. pseudosphaerocephala species complex + R. glaurungi clade. The new discovery represents the 19th species of Rhabdias spp. described in the Neotropical region, the ninth in Brazil and the first species of Rhabdias found parasitizing South American frogs of the genus Pseudopaludicola, as well as the first Caatinga biome species of Rhabdias.
The lack of anthelmintic products licensed for donkeys and the rising number of small donkey milk farms in the countries of Western Europe and Italy have led to an increased interest in the study of reliable and safe plant-derived treatment alternatives. In this study, the aqueous extracts of Achillea millefolium L. (flowers), Artemisia absinthium L. (aerial parts), Centaurium erythraea Rafn. (flowers), Gentiana asclepiadea L. (rhizomes and roots), Inula helenium L. (rhizomes and roots) and Tanacetum vulgare L. (aerial parts), have been tested in vitro for their potential ovicidal and larvicidal activity against donkey nematodes. An egg-hatching assay (EHA) and larval development assay (LDA) were performed for the in vitro study, and median lethal concentration (LC-50) values for both EHA and LDA were calculated using probit analysis. All tested plant extracts showed strong anthelmintic activity against strongyle eggs and larvae at concentrations ranging between 125 and 1.95 mg/ml, except for C. erythraea, which exhibited very little or no effect at all at the tested concentrations. A strong ovicidal effect was observed in A. absinthium, with an LC-50 value of 0.486 mg/ml (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.21–1.09). Gentiana asclepiadea showed high efficacy against strongyle larvae, with an LC-50 value of 0.041 mg/ml (95% CI 0.01–0.16). The most significant (P < 0.01) anthelmintic activity was exhibited by I. helenium, with an LC-50 value of 0.041 mg/ml (95% CI 0.01–0.16) for EHA and 0.41 mg/ml (95% CI 0.27–0.62) for LDA. The results proved the anthelmintic efficacy of the tested plant extracts, highlighting the need for further research into plant bioactive molecules both in vitro and in vivo.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is an important sensory cue for many animals, including both parasitic and free-living nematodes. Many nematodes show context-dependent, experience-dependent and/or life-stage-dependent behavioural responses to CO2, suggesting that CO2 plays crucial roles throughout the nematode life cycle in multiple ethological contexts. Nematodes also show a wide range of physiological responses to CO2. Here, we review the diverse responses of parasitic and free-living nematodes to CO2. We also discuss the molecular, cellular and neural circuit mechanisms that mediate CO2 detection in nematodes, and that drive context-dependent and experience-dependent responses of nematodes to CO2.
Cosmopolitan habitat-forming taxa of algae such as the genus Corallina provide an opportunity to compare patterns of biodiversity over wide geographic scales. Nematode assemblages inhabiting Corallina turves were compared between the south coasts of the British Isles and South Korea. A fully nested design was used with three regions in each country, two shores in each region and replicate samples taken from three patches on each shore to compare differences in the taxonomic and biological trait composition of nematode assemblages across scales. A biological traits approach, based on functional diversity of nematodes, was used to make comparisons between countries, among regions, between shores and among patches. The taxonomic and biological trait compositions of nematode assemblages were significantly different across all spatial scales (patches, shores, regions and countries). There is greater variation amongst nematode assemblages at the scale of shore than at other spatial scales. Nematode assemblage structure and functional traits are influenced by the local environmental factors on each shore including sea-surface temperature, the amount of sediment trapped in Corallina spp. and tidal range. The sea-surface temperature and the amount of sediment trapped in Corallina spp. were the predominant factors determining nematode abundance and composition of assemblages and their functional diversity.
Strongyloides stercoralis is a neglected parasite that can cause death in immunocompromised individuals. There were no data on the epidemiology of S. stercoralis infection in San Marino Republic until two patients (one of whom died) were diagnosed with severe strongyloidiasis (hyperinfection) between September 2016 and March 2017. A serology test for Strongyloides spp. was introduced in routine practice in the laboratory of the State Hospital to test patients considered to be at risk for strongyloidiasis. Between August 2017 and August 2018, of 42 patients tested with serology, two (4.8%) were positive. An additional case was found by gastric biopsy. Two of the positive cases were presumably autochthonous infections (elderly people with no significant travel history), while the other was a probable imported case (young man born in Nigeria and settled in Europe since 2003). Epidemiology of strongyloidiasis in San Marino might be similar to Northern Italy, where a relevant proportion of cases was diagnosed in immigrants (mainly from sub-Saharan Africa) and in elderly Italians with eosinophilia. Screening for strongyloidiasis might be worthwhile in inhabitants of San Marino in the same categories of individuals, particularly those at risk of immune suppression.
Phasmarhabditis hermaphrodita is a parasitic nematode of terrestrial gastropods that has been formulated into a biological control agent for farmers and gardeners to kill slugs and snails. In order to locate slugs it is attracted to mucus, faeces and volatile cues; however, there is no information about whether these nematodes are attracted to snail cues. It is also unknown how wild isolates of P. hermaphrodita or different Phasmarhabditis species behave when exposed to gastropod cues. Therefore, we investigated whether P. hermaphrodita (commercial and wild isolated strains), P. neopapillosa and P. californica were attracted to mucus from several common snail species (Cepaea nemoralis, Cepaea hortensis, Arianta arbustorum and Cornu aspersum). We also examined whether snails (C. aspersum) collected from different locations around the UK differed in their attractiveness to wild isolates of P. hermaphrodita. Furthermore, we also investigated what properties of snail mucus the nematodes were attracted to, including hyaluronic acid and metal salts (FeSO4, ZnSO4, CuSO4 and MgSO4). We found that the commercial strain of P. hermaphrodita responded poorly to snail mucus compared to wild isolated strains, and C. aspersum collected from different parts of the UK differed in their attractiveness to the nematodes. We found that Phasmarhabditis nematodes were weakly attracted to all metals tested but were strongly attracted to hyaluronic acid. In a final experiment we also showed that pharmacological manipulation of cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP) increased chemoattraction to snail mucus, suggesting that the protein kinase EGL-4 may be responsible for Phasmarhabditis sp. chemoattraction.
The importance of parasites as a selective force in host evolution is a topic of current interest. However, short-term ecological studies of host–parasite systems, on which such studies are usually based, provide only snap-shots of what may be dynamic systems. We report here on four surveys, carried out over a period of 12 years, of helminths of spiny mice (Acomys dimidiatus), the numerically dominant rodents inhabiting dry montane wadis in the Sinai Peninsula. With host age (age-dependent effects on prevalence and abundance were prominent) and sex (female bias in abundance in helminth diversity and in several taxa including Cestoda) taken into consideration, we focus on the relative importance of temporal and spatial effects on helminth infracommunities. We show that site of capture is the major determinant of prevalence and abundance of species (and higher taxa) contributing to helminth community structure, the only exceptions being Streptopharaus spp. and Dentostomella kuntzi. We provide evidence that most (notably the Spiruroidea, Protospirura muricola, Mastophorus muris and Gongylonema aegypti, but with exceptions among the Oxyuroidae, e.g. Syphacia minuta), show elements of temporal-site stability, with a rank order of measures among sites remaining similar over successive surveys. Hence, there are some elements of predictability in these systems.
Orca (Orcinus orca) strandings are rare and post-mortem examinations on fresh individuals are scarce. Thus, little is known about their parasitological fauna, prevalence of infections, associated pathology and the impact on their health. During post-mortem examinations of two male neonatal orcas stranded in Germany and Norway, lungworm infections were found within the bronchi of both individuals. The nematodes were identified as Halocercus sp. (Pseudaliidae), which have been described in the respiratory tract of multiple odontocete species, but not yet in orcas. The life cycle and transmission pathways of some pseudaliid nematodes are incompletely understood. Lungworm infections in neonatal cetaceans are an unusual finding and thus seem to be an indicator for direct mother-to-calf transmission (transplacental or transmammary) of Halocercus sp. nematodes in orcas.
Over a century ago microfaunal diversity was first recorded by James Murray in lakes at Cape Royds, Ross Island, Antarctica. The report stands as the seminal study for today’s biodiversity investigations, and as a baseline to evaluate changes in faunal communities and introductions. In the present study, Cape Royds lakes were revisited and the mitochondrial c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene and morphology were used to compare diversity of Rotifera, Tardigrada and Nematoda with the records Murray published in the early 1900s. Cyanobacterial mats and the water column were sampled for microfauna from the five largest lakes using methods described by Murray. Across all five lakes similar patterns were observed for species distribution of all three phyla reported by Murray over 100 years ago. Some changes in species assemblages were identified within and between lakes, but there were no new introductions of named species for the Cape Royds region. Some of the species included by Murray in his monograph have been recently redescribed as Antarctic endemics, but others still retain their original name from the Northern Hemisphere holotypes and are also in need of revision to adequately determine the true endemism for these faunal groups.
Northern bobwhite quail (Colinus virginianus), a popular gamebird among hunters, have been declining over recent decades in the Rolling Plains ecoregion. Investigations in the past few years have revealed a high prevalence of eyeworms (Oxyspirura petrowi) and caecal worms (Aulonocephalus pennula) in this ecoregion, prompting a need to better understand their host–parasite interaction and other factors that influence infection. In this study, the efficiency of a mobile laboratory was tested by deploying it to three field sites in the Rolling Plains between July and August of 2017 and collecting cloacal swabs from bobwhites. The DNA was extracted from swabs for quantitative PCR and was run in the mobile and reference laboratory to specifically detect A. pennula and O. petrowi infection. When compared with the Wildlife Toxicology's reference laboratory, the mobile laboratory had a 97 and 99% agreement for A. pennula and O. petrowi, respectively. There were no significant differences in infection levels between field sites. Due to its efficiency, it is proposed that the mobile laboratory would be an effective way to monitor infection levels, in addition to factors that may affect infection such as climate, diapause, and intermediate host populations.
Despite metabarcoding being widely used to analyse bacterial community composition, its application in parasitological research remains limited. What interest there has been has focused on previously intractable research settings where traditional methods are inappropriate, for example, in longitudinal studies and studies involving endangered species. In settings such as these, non-invasive sampling combined with metabarcoding can provide a fast and accurate assessment of component communities. In this paper we review the use of metabarcoding in the study of helminth communities in wild mammals, outlining the necessary procedures from sample collection to statistical analysis. We highlight the limitations of the metabarcoding approach and speculate on what type of parasitological study would benefit from such methods in the future.
Predicting the effectiveness of parasite control strategies requires accounting for the responses of individual hosts and the epidemiology of parasite supra- and infra-populations. The first objective was to develop a stochastic model that predicted the parasitological interactions within a group of first season grazing calves challenged by Ostertagia ostertagi, by considering phenotypic variation amongst the calves and variation in parasite infra-population. Model behaviour was assessed using variations in parasite supra-population and calf stocking rate. The model showed the initial pasture infection level to have little impact on parasitological output traits, such as worm burdens and FEC, or overall performance of calves, whereas increasing stocking rate had a disproportionately large effect on both parasitological and performance traits. Model predictions were compared with published data taken from experiments on common control strategies, such as reducing stocking rates, the ‘dose and move’ strategy and strategic treatment with anthelmintic at specific times. Model predictions showed in most cases reasonable agreement with observations, supporting model robustness. The stochastic model developed is flexible, with the potential to predict the consequences of other nematode control strategies, such as targeted selective treatments on groups of grazing calves.
Bioactive compounds from marine and terrestrial organisms have been used extensively in the treatment of many diseases in both their natural form and as templates for synthetic modifications. This review summarizes present knowledge about anthelmintic effects of the extracts of bioactive plants in Nigeria against helminth parasites of ruminants. Plants traditionally used in livestock production are discussed. The main focus is hinged on in vitro and in vivo activities of secondary plant metabolites against nematodes of livestock. This review provides insight into preliminary studies of medicinal plants, which can be investigated further to discover promising molecules in the search for novel anthelmintic drugs and nutraceuticals.
Gastrointestinal nematodes are compromising productivity of grazing sheep and goats. Therefore, scientists have been looking for cost-effective alternative options. Forage legumes (Fabacea Family) contain tannins that could improve livestock performance and their health as well. The present study aimed to (i) determine the in vitro anthelmintic (AH) activity of 19 acetonic extracts of Hedysarum carnosum Desf on Haemonchus contortus by a larval exsheathment assay (LEA); (ii) test the anthelmintic activity of condensed tannins using a deactivating reagent, polyvinylpolypyrrolidone (PVPP); (iii) study the effect of location and the phenological stage on the percentage of exsheathment. The LEA was used at different concentrations (150, 300, 600, 1200 µg mL−1 of acetonic extract/mL of purified buffer solution (PBS)). The larval exsheathment is concentration, location, phenological stage dependent. All extracts, caused a delay of the percentage of exsheathment over 50% so the AH activity of H. carnosum was confirmed. After addition of PVPP, the % exsheathment was similar to the 150 µg mL−1 concentration. The biplot showed that Loc1(S), Loc4(B), Loc 5(PF), Loc 6(BM) and Loc 6(PF) were isolated from other plant extract sample. Our in vitro study showed that H. carnosum seems to be a promising alternative to AH drugs.