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In recent years, an extensive collection of Toxoplasma gondii samples have been typed using a set of 10 PCR-RFLP genetic markers. Here we summarize the data reported until the end of 2012. A total of 1457 samples were typed into 189 genotypes. Overall, only a few genotypes dominate in the northern hemisphere, which is in stark contrast to the southern hemisphere where hundreds of genotypes coexist with none being notably dominant. PCR-RFLP genotype #1 (Type II clonal), #2 (Type III), #3 (Type II variant) and #10 (Type I) are identified globally. Genotypes #2 and #3 dominate in Africa, genotypes #9 (Chinese 1) and #10 are prevalent in Asia, genotypes #1, #2 and #3 are prevalent in Europe, genotypes #1, #2, #3, #4 and #5 dominate in North America (#4 and #5 are collectively known as Type 12). In Central and South America, there is no clear dominance of any genotype even though a few have relatively higher frequencies. Statistical analysis indicates significant differences among populations in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and Central and South America, with only Europe and North America exhibiting similar diversity. Collectively, the results revealed distinct population structures and geographical patterns of diversity in T. gondii.
Host-parasite interactions are an integral part of ecosystems that influence both ecological and evolutionary processes. Humans are currently altering environments the world over, often with drastic consequences for host-parasite interactions and the prevalence of parasites. The mechanisms behind the changes are, however, poorly known. Here, we explain how host-parasite interactions depend on two crucial steps – encounter rate and host-parasite compatibility – and how human activities are altering them and thereby host-parasite interactions. By drawing on examples from the literature, we show that changes in the two steps depend on the influence of human activities on a range of factors, such as the density and diversity of hosts and parasites, the search strategy of the parasite, and the avoidance strategy of the host. Thus, to unravel the mechanisms behind human-induced changes in host-parasite interactions, we have to consider the characteristics of all three parts of the interaction: the host, the parasite and the environment. More attention should now be directed to unfold these mechanisms, focusing on effects of environmental change on the factors that determine encounter rate and compatibility. We end with identifying several areas in urgent need of more investigations.
Nosema ceranae is a widespread honeybee parasite, considered to be one of the pathogens involved in the colony losses phenomenon. To date, little is known about its intraspecific genetic variability. The few studies on N. ceranae variation have focused on the subunits of ribosomal DNA, which are not ideal for this purpose and have limited resolution. Here we characterized three single copy loci (Actin, Hsp70 and RPB1) in three N. ceranae isolates from Hungary and Hawaii. Our results provide evidence of unexpectedly high levels of intraspecific polymorphism, the coexistence of a wide variety of haplotypes within each bee colony, and the occurrence of genetic recombination in RPB1. Most haplotypes are not shared across isolates and derive from a few frequent haplotypes by a reduced number of singletons (mutations that appear usually just once in the sample), which suggest that they have a fairly recent origin. Overall, our data indicate that this pathogen has experienced a recent population expansion. The presence of multiple haplotypes within individual isolates could be explained by the existence of different strains of N. ceranae infecting honeybee colonies in the field which complicates, and must not be overlooked, further analysis of host–parasite interactions.
The freshwater bryozoan, Fredericella sultana, is the main primary host of the myxozoan endoparasite, Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae which causes proliferative kidney disease (PKD) of salmonid fish. Because spores that develop in bryozoan colonies are infectious to fish, bryozoans represent the ultimate source of PKD. Bryozoans produce numerous seed-like dormant stages called statoblasts that enable persistence during unfavourable conditions and achieve long-distance dispersal. The possibility that T. bryosalmonae may undergo vertical transmission via infection of statoblasts has been the subject of much speculation since this is observed in close relatives. This study provides the first evidence that such vertical transmission of T. bryosalmonae is extensive by examining the proportions of infected statoblasts in populations of F. sultana on two different rivers systems and confirms its effectiveness by demonstrating transmission from material derived from infected statoblasts to fish hosts. Vertical transmission in statoblasts is likely to play an important role in the infection dynamics of both bryozoan and fish hosts and may substantially contribute to the widespread distribution of PKD.
The epidemiological study of human cryptosporidiosis requires the characterization of species and subtypes involved in human disease in large sample collections. Molecular genotyping is costly and time-consuming, making the implementation of low-cost, highly efficient technologies increasingly necessary. Here, we designed a protocol based on MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry for the high-throughput genotyping of a panel of 55 single nucleotide variants (SNVs) selected as markers for the identification of common gp60 subtypes of four Cryptosporidium species that infect humans. The method was applied to a panel of 608 human and 63 bovine isolates and the results were compared with control samples typed by Sanger sequencing. The method allowed the identification of species in 610 specimens (90·9%) and gp60 subtype in 605 (90·2%). It displayed excellent performance, with sensitivity and specificity values of 87·3 and 98·0%, respectively. Up to nine genotypes from four different Cryptosporidium species (C. hominis, C. parvum, C. meleagridis and C. felis) were detected in humans; the most common ones were C. hominis subtype Ib, and C. parvum IIa (61·3 and 28·3%, respectively). 96·5% of the bovine samples were typed as IIa. The method performs as well as the widely used Sanger sequencing and is more cost-effective and less time consuming.
Green fluorescent protein (GFP)-parasite transfectants have been widely used as a tool for studying disease pathogenesis in several protozoan models and their application in drug screening assays has increased rapidly. In the past decade, the expression of GFP has been established in several Leishmania species, mostly for in vitro studies. The current work reports generation of four transgenic parasites constitutively expressing GFP (Leishmania mexicana, Leishmania aethiopica, Leishmania tropica and Leishmania major) and their validation as a representative model of infection. This is the first report where stable expression of GFP has been achieved in L. aethiopica and L. tropica. Integration of GFP was accomplished through homologous recombination of the expression construct, pRib1.2αNEOαGFP downstream of the 18S rRNA promoter in all species. A homogeneous and high level expression of GFP was detected in both the promastigote and the intracellular amastigote stages. All transgenic species showed the same growth pattern, ability to infect mammalian host cells and sensitivity to reference drugs as their wild type counterparts. All four transgenic Leishmania are confirmed as models for in vitro and possibly in vivo infections and represent an ideal tool for medium throughput testing of compound libraries.
Non-random assemblages have been described as a common pattern of flea co-occurrence across mainland host species. However, to date, patterns of flea co-occurrence on islands are unknown. The present work investigates, on one hand, whether the decrease in the number of species on islands affects the pattern of flea co-occurrence, and on the other hand, how the cost of higher flea burdens affects host body mass. The study was carried out in the Canary Islands (Spain) using null models to analyse flea co-occurrence on Rattus rattus and Mus musculus. Results supported aggregation of flea species in Mus but not in Rattus, probably due to the relationship between abundance and both prevalence and intensity of infection of the main flea species parasitizing Mus. In addition, heavy individuals of both rodent species showed the highest flea burdens as well as higher species richness, probably due to the continued accumulation of fleas throughout life and/or immunological resistance mechanisms. Whatever the mechanisms involved, it is clear that co-occurrence and high parasite intensities do not imply a detrimental biological cost for the rodents of the Canary Islands.
The majority of Haemogregarina species have been based on the morphology of their erythrocytic stages and supposed strict host specificity. The quantity of species with a limited number of overlapping diagnostic traits has led to a considerable mess in haemogregarine taxonomy and significant synonymy. We analysed host specificity, intra- and interspecific variability, evolutionary relationships, and the distribution of the type species of the genus Haemogregarina – H. stepanowi. The morphology of blood stages and 18S rDNA sequences of this haemogregarine from four western Palaearctic hard-shelled freshwater turtles (Emys orbicularis, Mauremys caspica, Mauremys leprosa and Mauremys rivulata) were compared with Haemogregarina balli. Additional sequences of 18S rDNA of Haemogregarina-like isolates collected from three species of African hinged terrapins (genus Pelusios) were used to enlarge the dataset for phylogenetic analyses. Thirteen sequences (1085 bp) of Haemogregarina representing all four western Palaearctic turtle species were identical, corresponding to H. stepanowi, which is closely related to the Nearctic species H. balli. In our analyses, Haemogregarina spp. constituted a monophyletic clade sister to the genus Hepatozoon. Haemogregarina stepanowi possesses a wide distribution range from the Maghreb, through Europe, Turkey and the Middle East to Iran. We consider that the genus Haemogregarina has a low host specificity crossing the family level of its vertebrate hosts and that its distribution is likely to be linked to the vector and definitive host – the leech.
Free-living amoebae belonging to the genus Acanthamoeba are the causative agents of infections such as amoebic keratitis (AK), granulomatous amoebic encephalitis (GAE) and cutaneous lesions. The mechanisms involved in the establishment of infection are unknown. However, it is accepted that the initial phase of pathogenesis involves adherence to the host tissue. In this work, we analysed surface molecules with an affinity for epithelial and neuronal cells from the trophozoites of Acanthamoeba castellanii. We also investigated the cellular mechanisms that govern the process of trophozoite adhesion to the host cells. We first used confocal and epifluorescence microscopy to examine the distribution of the A. castellanii actin cytoskeleton during interaction with the host cells. The use of drugs, as cytochalasin B (CB) and latrunculin B (LB), revealed the participation of cytoskeletal filaments in the adhesion process. In addition, to identify the proteins and glycoproteins on the surface of A. castellanii, the trophozoites were labelled with biotin and biotinylated lectins. The results revealed bands of surface proteins, some of which were glycoproteins with mannose and N-acetylglucosamine residues. Interaction assays of biotinylated amoebae proteins with epithelial and neuronal cells showed that some surface proteins had affinity for both cell types. The results of this study provide insight into the biochemical and cellular mechanisms of the Acanthamoeba infection process.
Bluetongue is a disease of major economic concern in Europe. Its causative agent, bluetongue virus (BTV), is transmitted by several Culicoides species (mainly Culicoides imicola and Culicoides obsoletus in Europe). The application of insecticides on animals may reduce transmission of BTV, however, no formulation is currently licensed specifically against Culicoides midges. The present study assesses the susceptibility of C. obsoletus to deltamethrin using an adapted World Health Organization (WHO) susceptibility test. Midges were exposed to different dosages of deltamethrin for 1 h, and mortality after 1 h and 24 h was recorded. Results indicated that deltamethrin is highly toxic to C. obsoletus since a dose of 1·33×10−4% was enough to kill 50% of the population (LD50) in 24 h. The deltamethrin concentration needed to kill 90% of the population (LD90) was 5·55×10−4%. The results obtained in the present work could help to create a system that can be used to assess insecticide resistance and susceptibility of Culicoides biting midges.
To assess the prevalence of Taenia solium cysticercosis in patients with neurological disorders in Slovenia, serum/cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from 348 suspected patients were collected between the beginning of January 2001 and the end of December 2012 and analysed serologically for the presence of anti-T. solium IgG antibodies. Of 20 patients whose samples tested positive or equivocal by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), samples of 7 patients were confirmed positive by Western blot (WB). The overall seroprevalence rate of T. solium infection in patients with neurological disorders included in the study was 2.0%. Serological results of positive patients corresponded to clinical and/or imaging findings concerning their brain cysts. Based on their personal data, it was ascertained that neurocysticercosis (NCC) positive patients had immigrated or came to Slovenia from the former Yugoslav republics. Since the disease is believed not to be endemic in Slovenia we assume that all of the NCC-positive patients had acquired the infection before immigration to Slovenia or visiting or being visited by their relatives infected with an adult T. solium parasite. The present results represent the first insight into the prevalence of NCC in patients with neurological disorders in Slovenia.
It is well established that visceral leishmaniasis (VL; also known as Kala azar) causes immunosuppression, and a successful drug treatment is associated with the development of cell-mediated immunity. Therefore combining a drug with an immune enhancer can provide a better approach for the treatment of the disease. Keeping this in mind, the in vivo antileishmanial efficacy of immunochemotherapy was evaluated with the use of a 78 kDa antigen with or without monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL-A) along with a traditional drug sodium stibogluconate (SSG) in Leishmania donovani infected BALB/c mice. Mice were infected intracardially with promastigotes of L. donovani, and 30 days after infection, these animals were given specific immunotherapy (78 kDa/78 kDa+MPL-A) or chemotherapy (SSG) or immunochemotherapy (SSG+78 kDa/SSG+78 kDa+MPL-A). Animals were euthanased on 1, 15 and 30 post-treatment days. The antileishmanial potential of the immunochemotherapy was revealed by significant reduction in the parasite burden (P<0·001). These animals were also found to exhibit increased delayed type hypersensitivity (DTH) responses, higher IgG2a levels, lower IgG1 levels and greater cytokine (IFN-γ and IL-2) concentrations compared with chemotherapy or immunotherapy alone, pointing towards the generation of a strong protective (Th1) type of immune response. Immunochemotherapy with SSG+78 kDa+MPL-A was found to be most effective in protecting mice against VL and therefore can be an alternative option for treatment of VL.
Aelurostrongylus abstrusus (Strongylida, Angiostrongylidae) and Troglostrongylus brevior (Strongylida, Crenosomatidae) are regarded as important lungworm species of domestic felids, with the latter considered an emerging threat in the Mediterranean region. The present study aimed to assess their concurrent development in the mollusc Helix aspersa (Pulmonata, Helicidae). Thirty snails were infested with 100 first-stage larvae (L1) of A. abstrusus and T. brevior, isolated from a naturally infested kitten. Larval development was checked by digesting five specimens at 2, 6 and 11 days post infestation. Larvae retrieved were morphologically described and their identification was confirmed by specific PCR and sequencing. All H. aspersa snails were positive for A. abstrusus and T. brevior, whose larval stages were simultaneously detected at each time point. In addition, snails were exposed to outdoor conditions and examined after overwintering, testing positive up to 120 days post infestation. Data herein presented suggest that A. abstrusus and T. brevior develop in H. aspersa snails and may eventually co-infest cats. Data on the morphology of both parasitic species in H. aspersa provide additional information on their development and identification, to better understand the population dynamics of these lungworms in receptive snails and paratenic hosts.
Glutathione peroxidase (GPx; EC 220.127.116.11) is an important antioxidant enzyme that catalyses the reduction of organic and inorganic hydroperoxides to water in oxygen-consuming organisms, using glutathione as an electron donor. Here, we report the characterization of a GPx of Cryptosporidium parvum (CpGPx). CpGPx contained a standard UGU codon for cysteine instead of a UGA opal codon for seleno-cysteine (SeCys) at the active site, and no SeCys insertion sequence (SECIS) motif was identified within the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) of CpGPx, which suggested its selenium-independent nature. In silico and biochemical analyses indicated that CpGPx is a cytosolic protein with a monomeric structure. Recombinant CpGPx was active over a wide pH range and was stable under physiological conditions. It showed a substrate preference against organic hydroperoxides, such as cumene hydroperoxide and t-butyl hydroperoxide, but it also showed activity against inorganic hydroperoxide, hydrogen peroxide. Recombinant CpGPx was not inhibited by potassium cyanide or by sodium azide. The enzyme effectively protected DNA and protein from oxidative damage induced by hydrogen peroxide, and was functionally expressed in various developmental stages of C. parvum. These results collectively suggest the essential role of CpGPx for the parasite's antioxidant defence system.