Parasites and Vectors

The first report of Cryptosporidium andersoni in horses with diarrhea and multilocus subtype analysis

Background: Horses interact with humans in a wide variety of sport competitions and non-competitive recreational pursuits as well as in working activities. Cryptosporidium spp are one of the most important zoonotic pathogens causing diarrhea of humans and animals. The reports of Cryptosporidium in horses and the findings of zoonotic Cryptosporidium species/genotypes show a necessity to carry out molecular identification of Cryptosporidium in horses, especially in diarrheic ones. The aim of the present study was to understand Cryptosporidium infection and species/genotypes in diarrheic horses, and to trace the source of infection of horse-derived Cryptosporidium isolates at a subtype level.FindingsFecal specimens of 29 diarrheic adult horses were collected in Taikang County in northeastern China’s Heilongjiang Province. Cryptosporidium oocysts were concentrated by Sheather’s sugar flotation technique, and then examined by a bright-field microscope. Meanwhile, all the specimens were subjected to PCR amplification of the small subunit (SSU) rRNA gene of Cryptosporidium. C. andersoni isolates were further subtyped by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) at the four microsatellite/minisatellite loci (MS1, MS2, MS3 and MS16).One and two Cryptosporidium-positive isolates were obtained in horses by microscopy and by PCR, respectively. The two C. andersoni isolates were identified by sequencing of the SSU rRNA gene of Cryptosporidium. Both of them were identical to each other at the MS1, MS2, MS3 and MS16 loci, and MLST subtype A4,A4,A4,A1 was found here. Conclusions: This is the first report of C. andersoni in horses. The fact that the MLST subtype A4,A4,A4,A1 was reported in cattle suggests a large possibility of transmission of C. andersoni between cattle and horses.

Eco-epidemiological study of an endemic Chagas disease region in northern Colombia reveals the importance of Triatoma maculata (Hemiptera: Reduviidae), dogs and Didelphis marsupialis in Trypanosoma cruzi maintenance

Background: In Colombia, Rhodnius prolixus and Triatoma dimidiata are the main domestic triatomine species known to transmit T. cruzi. However, there are multiple reports of T. cruzi transmission involving secondary vectors. In this work, we carried out an eco-epidemiological study on Margarita Island, located in the Caribbean region of Colombia, where Chagas disease is associated with non-domiciliated vectors. Methods: To understand the transmission dynamics of Trypanosoma cruzi in this area, we designed a comprehensive, multi-faceted study including the following: (i) entomological evaluation through a community-based insect-surveillance campaign, blood meal source determination and T. cruzi infection rate estimation in triatomine insects; (ii) serological determination of T. cruzi prevalence in children under 15 years old, as well as in domestic dogs and synanthropic mammals; (iii) evaluation of T. cruzi transmission capacity in dogs and Didelphis marsupialis, and (iv) genetic characterization of T. cruzi isolates targeting spliced-leader intergene region (SL-IR) genotypes. Results: Out of the 124 triatomines collected, 94 % were Triatoma maculata, and 71.6 % of them were infected with T. cruzi. Blood-meal source analysis showed that T. maculata feeds on multiple hosts, including humans and domestic dogs. Serological analysis indicated 2 of 803 children were infected, representing a prevalence of 0.25 %. The prevalence in domestic dogs was 71.6 % (171/224). Domestic dogs might not be competent reservoir hosts, as inferred from negative T. cruzi xenodiagnosis and haemoculture tests. However, 61.5 % (8/13) of D. marsupialis, the most abundant synanthropic mammal captured, were T. cruzi-positive on xenodiagnosis and haemocultures. Conclusions: This study reveals the role of peridomestic T. maculata and dogs in T. cruzi persistence in this region and presents evidence that D. marsupialis are a reservoir mediating peridomestic-zoonotic cycles. This picture reflects the complexity of the transmission dynamics of T. cruzi in an endemic area with non-domiciliated vectors where active human infection exists. There is an ongoing need to control peridomestic T. maculata populations and to implement continuous reservoir surveillance strategies with community participation.

Host-dependent morphology of Isthmiophora melis (Schrank, 1788) Luhe, 1909 (Digenea, Echinostomatinae) – morphological variation vs. molecular stability

Background: Echinostomes are cosmopolitan digenean parasites which infect many different warm-blooded hosts. Their classification is extremely confused; the host spectrum is wide, and morphological similarities often result in misidentification. During our long-term studies on the helminth fauna of rodents and carnivores we have collected 27 collar-spined echinostomes which differ in morphology to an extent that suggests the presence of more than one species. Here, we describe this material, and the extent of host-related variation in this parasite. Methods: Specimens of Isthmiophora isolated from four host species (badger, American mink, hedgehog, striped field mouse) were subject to morphological and molecular examination; the data were statistically analysed. Results: Our results show that genetically all the Isthmiophora specimens obtained from all the examined hosts are conspecific and represent I. melis. On the other hand, the individuals isolated from Apodemus agrarius are morphologically distinct and, based on this criterion alone, should be described as a new species. Conclusions: The morphological traits of Isthmiophora melis are much variable and host-dependent; without molecular analysis they would suggest a necessity to describe a new species or even genus. Such a high level of intraspecific variability may be affected by the host’s longevity.

High prevalence of trypanosomes in European badgers detected using ITS-PCR

Background: Wildlife can be important sources and reservoirs for pathogens. Trypanosome infections are common in many mammalian species, and are pathogenic in some. Molecular detection tools were used to measure trypanosome prevalence in a well-studied population of wild European badgers (Meles meles).FindingsA nested ITS-PCR system, that targeted the ribosomal RNA gene locus, has been widely used to detect pathogenic human and animal trypanosomes in domestic animals in Africa and some wildlife hosts. Samples from a long-term DEFRA funded capture-mark-recapture study of wild badgers at Woodchester Park (Gloucestershire, SW England) were investigated for trypanosome prevalence. A total of 82 badger blood samples were examined by nested ITS-PCR. Twenty-nine of the samples were found to be positive for trypanosomes giving a prevalence of 35.4 % (25.9 % - 46.2 %; 95 % CI). Infection was not found to be linked to badger condition, sex or age. Analysis of DNA sequence data showed the badgers to be infected with Trypanosoma (Megatrypanum) pestanai and phylogenetic analysis showed the Woodchester badger trypanosomes and T. pestanai to cluster in the Megatrypanum clade. Conclusions: The results show that the ITS Nested PCR is an effective tool for diagnosing trypanosome infection in badgers and suggests that it could be widely used in wildlife species with unknown trypanosomes or mixed infections. The relatively high prevalence observed in these badgers raises the possibility that a significant proportion of UK badgers are naturally infected with trypanosomes.

Ascaris lumbricoides β carbonic anhydrase: a potential target enzyme for treatment of ascariasis

Background: A parasitic roundworm, Ascaris lumbricoides, is the causative agent of ascariasis, with approximately 760 million cases around the world. Helminthic infections occur with a high prevalence mostly in tropical and developing xcountries. Therefore, design of affordable broad-spectrum anti-helminthic agents against a variety of pathogens, including not only A. lumbricoides but also hookworms and whipworms, is desirable. Beta carbonic anhydrases (β-CAs) are considered promising targets of novel anthelminthics because these enzymes are present in various parasites, while completely absent in vertebrates. Methods: In this study, we identified an A. lumbricoides β-CA (AIBCA) protein from protein sequence data using bioinformatics tools. We used computational biology resources and methods (including InterPro, CATH/Gene3D, KEGG, and METACYC) to analyze AlBCA and define potential roles of this enzyme in biological pathways. The AlBCA gene was cloned into pFastBac1, and recombinant AIBCA was produced in sf-9 insect cells. Kinetics of AlBCA were analyzed by a stopped-flow method. Results: Multiple sequence alignment revealed that AIBCA contains the two sequence motifs, CXDXR and HXXC, typical for β-CAs. Recombinant AIBCA showed significant CA catalytic activity with k cat of 6.0 × 10 5  s −1 and k cat /K M of 4.3 × 10 7  M −1 s −1 . The classical CA inhibitor, acetazolamide, showed an inhibition constant of 84.1 nM. Computational modeling suggests that the molecular architecture of AIBCA is highly similar to several other known β-CA structures. Functional predictions suggest that AIBCA might play a role in bicarbonate-mediated metabolic pathways, such as gluconeogenesis and removal of metabolically produced cyanate. Conclusions: These results open new avenues to further investigate the precise functions of β-CAs in parasites and suggest that novel β-CA specific inhibitors should be developed and tested against helminthic diseases.

Abiotic predictors and annual seasonal dynamics of Ixodes ricinus , the major disease vector of Central Europe

Background: Abiotic conditions provide cues that drive tick questing activity. Defining these cues is critical in predicting biting risk, and in forecasting climate change impacts on tick populations. This is particularly important for Ixodes ricinus nymphs, the vector of numerous pathogens affecting humans. Methods: A 6-year study of the questing activity of I. ricinus was conducted in Central Bohemia, Czech Republic, from 2001 to 2006. Tick numbers were determined by weekly flagging the vegetation in a defined 600 m 2 field site. After capture, ticks were released back to where they were found. Concurrent temperature data and relative humidity were collected in the microhabitat and at a nearby meteorological station. Data were analysed by regression methods. Results: During 208 monitoring visits, a total of 21,623 ticks were recorded. Larvae, nymphs, and adults showed typical bimodal questing activity curves with major spring peaks and minor late summer or autumn peaks (mid-summer for males). Questing activity of nymphs and adults began with ~12 h of daylight and ceased at ~9 h daylight, at limiting temperatures close to freezing (in early spring and late autumn); questing occurred during ~70 % calendar year without cessation in summer. The co-occurrence of larvae and nymphs varied annually, ranging from 31 to 80 % of monitoring visits, and depended on the questing activity of larvae. Near-ground temperature, day length, and relative air humidity were all significant predictors of nymphal activity. For 70 % of records, near-ground temperatures measured in the microhabitat were 4–5 °C lower than those recorded by the nearby meteorological observatory, although they were strongly dependent. Inter-annual differences in seasonal numbers of nymphs reflected extreme weather events. Conclusions: Weather predictions (particularly for temperature) combined with daylight length, are good predictors of the initiation and cessation of I. ricinus nymph questing activity, and hence of the risk period to humans, in Central Europe. Co-occurrence data for larvae and nymphs support the notion of intrastadial rather than interstadial co-feeding pathogen transmission. Annual questing tick numbers recover quickly from the impact of extreme weather events.

Ubiquitous bacteria Borrelia crocidurae in Western African ticks Ornithodoros sonrai

Background: In West Africa, tick-borne relapsing fever is a neglected arthropod-borne infection caused by Borrelia crocidurae transmitted by the argasid tick Ornithodoros sonrai. From an epidemiological point of view, it is of interest to know whether some genotypes of the vector are specialized in carrying certain genotypes of the pathogen.FindingsThirty-five O. sonrai ticks collected in Mali, Senegal, Mauritania and Morocco confirmed to be B. crocidurae-infected, were genotyped by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. B. crocidurae was genotyped by Multispacer Sequence Typing. The 35 O. sonrai ticks grouped into 12 genotypes with strong geographical structuration. MST resolved the 35 B. crocidurae isolates into 29 genotypes with pairwise divergence of 0.09 - 1.56 % without strict geographical structuration as genotype ST22 was found in Mali, Senegal and Mauritania. There was no evidence of tick-borrelia specialization as one O. sonrai genotype carried several B. crocidurae genotypes and one B. crocidurae genotype was found in different O. sonrai genotypes. Conclusions: This report illustrates a non-specialized circulation of B. crocidurae borreliae within O. sonrai ticks in West Africa.

Experimental studies on comparison of the vector competence of four Italian Culex pipiens populations for West Nile virus

Background: West Nile virus (WNV) is a vector-borne disease responsible for causing epidemics in many areas of the world. The virus is maintained in nature by an enzootic bird-mosquito-bird cycle and occasionally transmitted to other hosts, such as equines and humans. Culex species, in particular the ubiquitous species Culex pipiens is thought to play a major vector role both in enzootic and epizootic maintenance and transmission of WNV. Introduced in Europe in recent years, since 2008 WNV has been stably circulating mainly in the Northeastern regions of Italy, although sporadic equine and/or human cases, as well as WNV infected Cx. pipiens pools, have been recorded in other Italian areas. The scope of our study was to evaluate the potential competence of some Italian populations of Cx. pipiens to transmit WNV and to assess their ability for vertical transmission of the virus. For this purpose four Italian populations, from different areas, were experimentally infected. Methods: After the infectious blood meal, fed females were monitored for 32 days to determine the length of viral extrinsic incubation period. WNV titre of infected mosquitoes was evaluated both by quantitative Real Time PCR and viral titration by Plaque Forming Units/ml (PFU/mL) in VERO cells. Potential Infection, Dissemination, Transmission rates (IR, DR, TR) were assessed by detection of the virus in body, legs plus wings and saliva of the fed females, respectively. Results: All tested populations were susceptible to the WNV infection. The viral presence in legs and wings demonstrated the ability of WNV to disseminate in the mosquitoes. Viral RNA was detected in the saliva of tested populations. No significant differences in TR values were observed among the four studied populations. The offspring of the Cx. pipiens infected females were WNV negative. Conclusions: Our study addressed an important issue in the knowledge on the complex WNV-vector relationships in Italy, indicating that all Italian Cx. pipiens populations tested exhibited vector competence for WNV. Further studies should be performed in order to better clarify the role of other factors (vector density, climatic conditions, reservoir presence etc.) in order to predict where and when WNV outbreaks could occur.

Non-structural protein NS3/NS3a is required for propagation of bluetongue virus in Culicoides sonorensis

Background: Bluetongue virus (BTV) causes non-contagious haemorrhagic disease in ruminants and is transmitted by Culicoides spp. biting midges. BTV encodes four non-structural proteins of which NS3/NS3a is functional in virus release. NS3/NS3a is not essential for in vitro virus replication. However, deletion of NS3/NS3a leads to delayed virus release from mammalian cells and largely reduces virus release from insect cells. NS3/NS3a knockout BTV in sheep causes no viremia, but induces sterile immunity and is therefore proposed to be a Disabled Infectious Single Animal (DISA) vaccine candidate. In the absence of viremia, uptake of this vaccine strain by blood-feeding midges would be highly unlikely. Nevertheless, unintended replication of vaccine strains within vectors, and subsequent recombination or re-assortment resulting in virulent phenotypes and transmission is a safety concern of modified-live vaccines. Methods: The role of NS3/NS3a in replication and dissemination of BTV1, expressing VP2 of serotype 2 within colonized Culicoides sonorensis midges was investigated. Virus strains were generated using reverse genetics and their growth was examined in vitro. A laboratory colony of C. sonorensis, a known competent BTV vector, was fed or injected with BTV with or without expressing NS3/NS3a and replication in the midge was examined using RT PCR. Crossing of the midgut infection barrier was examined by separate testing of midge heads and bodies. Results: Although the parental NS3/NS3a expressing strain was not able to replicate and disseminate within C. sonorensis after oral feeding, this virus was able to replicate efficiently when the midgut infection barrier was bypassed by intrathoracic injection, whereas the NS3/NS3a knockout mutant was unable to replicate. This demonstrates that NS3/NS3a is required for viral replication within Culicoides. Conclusion: The lack of viremia and the inability to replicate within the vector, clearly demonstrate the inability of NS3/NS3a knockout DISA vaccine strains to be transmitted by midges.

Bluetongue virus infection creates light averse Culicoides vectors and serious errors in transmission risk estimates

Background: Pathogen manipulation of host behavior can greatly impact vector-borne disease transmission, but almost no attention has been paid to how it affects disease surveillance. Bluetongue virus (BTV), transmitted by Culicoides biting midges, is a serious disease of ruminant livestock that can cause high morbidity and mortality and significant economic losses. Worldwide, the majority of surveillance for Culicoides to assess BTV transmission risk is done using UV-light traps. Here we show that field infection rates of BTV are significantly lower in midge vectors collected using traps baited with UV light versus a host cue (CO 2 ). Methods: We collected Culicoides sonorensis midges in suction traps baited with CO 2 , UV-light, or CO 2  + UV on three dairies in southern California to assess differences in the resulting estimated infection rates from these collections. Pools of midges were tested for BTV by qRT-PCR, and maximum likelihood estimates of infection rate were calculated by trap. Infection rate estimates were also calculated by trapping site within a dairy. Colonized C. sonorensis were orally infected with BTV, and infection of the structures of the compound eye was examined using structured illumination microscopy. Results: UV traps failed entirely to detect virus both early and late in the transmission season, and underestimated virus prevalence by as much as 8.5-fold. CO 2  + UV traps also had significantly lower infection rates than CO 2 -only traps, suggesting that light may repel infected vectors. We found very high virus levels in the eyes of infected midges, possibly causing altered vision or light perception. Collecting location also greatly impacts our perception of virus activity. Conclusions: Because the majority of global vector surveillance for bluetongue uses only light-trapping, transmission risk estimates based on these collections are likely severely understated. Where national surveillance programs exist, alternatives to light-trapping should be considered. More broadly, disseminated infections of many arboviruses include infections in vectors’ eyes and nervous tissues, and this may be causing unanticipated behavioral effects. Field demonstrations of pathogen-induced changes in vector behavior are quite rare, but should be studied in more systems to accurately predict vector-borne disease transmission.

A PCR-RFLP Assay targeting RPS8 gene for the discrimination between bovine Babesia and Theileria species in China

Background: Bovine babesiosis and theileriosis is an important hemoprotozoal disease in cattles and yaks in tropical and subtropical regions leading to significant economic losses. In the field, the risk of co-infection between the bovine Babesia and Theileria species is very high. Thus, it is necessary to develop a simple, accurate, rapid and cost-effective method for large-scale epidemic investigation, in particular for the detection of co-infection in field. Methods: In this study, DNA sequences of a ribosomal protein S8 (RPS8) gene from eight species of cattle piroplasms in China were used to develop a species-specific PCR-RFLP diagnostic tool. The eight Theileria and Babesia species could be differentiated by digesting the RPS8 PCR product with Mbo I. Results: The sensitivity of the PCR assays was 0.1 pg DNA for Babesia species but 1 pg DNA for Theileria species. The clearly different size of the PCR-RFLP products allowed for a direct discrimination between eight bovine Theileria and Babesia species (T. annulata, T. sinensis, T. sergenti, B. ovata, B. bovis, B. bigemina, B. major and Babesia species Kashi isolate). Conclusion: Our results indicated that the established method based on the RPS8 gene was a reliable molecular diagnostic tool for the simultaneous detection and identification of bovine Babesia and Theileria species in China, which could be applicable for the survey of parasite dynamics, epidemiological studies as well as prevention and control of the disease.

Polymorphism in drug resistance genes dihydrofolate reductase and dihydropteroate synthase in Plasmodium falciparum in some states of India

Background: Sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) combination drug is currently being used in India for the treatment of Plasmodium falciparum as partner drug in artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). Resistance to sulfadoxine and pyrimethamine in P. falciparum is linked with mutations in dihydropteroate synthase (pfdhps) and dihydrofolate reductase (pfdhfr) genes respectively. This study was undertaken to estimate the prevalence of such mutations in pfdhfr and pfdhps genes in four states of India. Methods: Plasmodium falciparum isolates were collected from two states of India with high malaria incidence i.e., Jharkhand and Odisha and two states with low malaria incidence i.e., Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh between years 2006 to 2012. Part of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) drug resistance genes, pfdhfr and pfdhps were PCR-amplified, sequenced and analyzed. Results: A total of 217 confirmed P. falciparum isolates were sequenced for both Pfdhfr and pfdhps gene. Two pfdhfr mutations 59R and 108N were most common mutations prevalent in all localities in 77 % of isolates. Additionally, I164L was found in Odisha and Jharkhand only (4/70 and 8/84, respectively). Another mutation 51I was found in Odisha only (3/70). The pfdhps mutations 436A, 437G, 540E and 581G were found in Jharkhand and Odisha only in 13, 26, 14 and 13 % isolates respectively, and was absent in Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Combined together for pfdhps and pfdhfr locus, triple, quadruple, quintuple and sextuple mutations were present in Jharkhand and Odisha while absent in Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh. Conclusion: While only double mutants of pfdhfr was present in low transmission area (Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh) with total absence of pfdhps mutants, up to sextuple mutations were present in high transmission areas (Odisha and Jharkhand) for both the genes combined. Presence of multiple mutations in pfdhfr and pfdhps genes linked to SP resistance in high transmission area may lead to fixation of multiple mutations in presence of high drug pressure and high recombination rate.

Host-feeding behaviour of Dermacentor reticulatus and Dermacentor marginatus in mono-specific and inter-specific infestations

Background: Given the sympatric occurrence in some regions of Europe and the great epidemiological significance of D. reticulatus and D. marginatus species, we investigated the behaviour of these ticks during inter-specific and mono-specific host infestations.FindingsThe investigations were conducted on rabbits at 20 ± 3 °C and humidity of 38 ± 1 %. The inter-specific infestations groups consisted of 20 females and ten males of D. marginatus and 20 females and ten males of D. reticulatus on each host, whereas mono-specific infestations involved 40 females and 20 males of each species.The investigations have demonstrated competition between the two tick species resulting in modification of the behaviour on the host and the feeding course in D. marginatus females by the presence of D. reticulatus. In the inter-specific group, D. marginatus females attached for a longer time (mean 2.74 ± 1.12 h) than in the mono-specific group (mean 1.24 ± 0.97 h) (p < 0.0001). The feeding period of these females was shorter (9.45 ± 1.30 days) than in the mono-specific group (13.15 ± 2.53 days) (p < 0.0001), but they exhibited a statistically significantly higher body weight in comparison with the females from the mono-specific infestation (p = 0.0155). In D. reticulatus females, no significant difference was found in the host attachment and feeding rates between the mono-specific and inter-specific groups. Conclusions: The differences in the behaviour of the females from both species during co-feeding reflect physiological adaptation to environmental conditions, which enables them to ingest blood and reproduce. During co-feeding of D. reticulatus and D. marginatus on the same host, two inter-specific systems with different physiological features are formed, which may influence the transmission of tick-borne pathogens.

Determination of the optimal mating age of colonised Glossina brevipalpis and Glossina austeni using walk-in field cages in South Africa

Background: For the control of Glossina brevipalpis and Glossina austeni that occur in South Africa an area-wide integrated pest management (AW-IPM) program with a sterile insect technique (SIT) component has been proposed. The quality of the released sterile male tsetse flies will greatly determine the success of the SIT component of the programme. Sterile males need to be able to compete with wild males immediately after their release in the affected area. The mating competitiveness can be affected by many factors including the optimal mating age of the fly which can have an impact on the timing of the release. Methods: To assess the optimal mating age for G. brevipalpis and G. austeni, mating competitiveness studies were carried out in a walk-in field cage. First, the time of peak fly activity was determined by performing the experiment in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Thereafter, 3, 6 and 9-day-old male flies competed for 3-day-old virgin females. Results: There were no significant differences in mating performance when the field cage experiments were done in the morning or in the afternoon. However, the mating latency was shorter in the afternoon than in the morning. For both species 9-day-old males mated significantly more often than 6 or 3-day-old males. Age did not affect the males’ ability to transfer sperm, mating duration or the mating latency. All females that mated were inseminated. Conclusions: Age did influence the mating competitiveness of G. brevipalpis and G. austeni and it is recommended that sterile males are not released before the age of 9 days. Keeping the male flies in the rearing facility for 8 days will have economic and logistic consequences for AW-IPM programmes that have a SIT component.

Hemozoin &#8220;knobs&#8221; in Opisthorchis felineus infected liver

Background: Hemozoin is the pigment produced by some blood-feeding parasites. It demonstrates high diagnostic and therapeutic potential. In this work the formation of co-called hemozoin “knobs” – the bile duct ectasia filled up by hemozoin pigment - in Opisthorhis felineus infected hamster liver has been observed. Methods: The O. felineus infected liver was examined by histological analysis and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The pigment hemozoin was identified by Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and high resolution electrospray ionization mass spectrometry analysis. Hemozoin crystals were characterised by high resolution transmission electron microscopy. Results: Hemozoin crystals produced by O. felineus have average length 403 nm and the length-to-width ratio equals 2.0. The regurgitation of hemozoin from parasitic fluke during infection leads to formation of bile duct ectasia. The active release of hemozoin from O. felineus during in vitro incubation has also been evidenced. It has been shown that the hemozoin knobs can be detected by magnetic resonance imaging. Conclusions: In the paper for the first time the characterisation of hemozoin pigment extracted from liver fluke O. felineus has been conducted. The role of hemozoin in the modification of immune response by opisthorchiasis is assumed.

RNA-seq analyses of changes in the Anopheles gambiae transcriptome associated with resistance to pyrethroids in Kenya: identification of candidate-resistance genes and candidate-resistance SNPs

Background: The extensive use of pyrethroids for control of malaria vectors, driven by their cost, efficacy and safety, has led to widespread resistance. To favor their sustainable use, the World Health Organization (WHO) formulated an insecticide resistance management plan, which includes the identification of the mechanisms of resistance and resistance surveillance. Recognized physiological mechanisms of resistance include target site mutations in the para voltage-gated sodium channel, metabolic detoxification and penetration resistance. Such understanding of resistance mechanisms has allowed the development of resistance monitoring tools, including genotyping of the kdr mutation L1014F/S in the para gene. Methods: The sequence-based technique RNA-seq was applied to study changes in the transcriptome of deltamethrin-resistant and -susceptible Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes from the Western Province of Kenya. The resulting gene expression profiles were compared to data in the most recent literature to derive a list of candidate resistance genes. RNA-seq data were analyzed also to identify sequence polymorphisms linked to resistance. Results: A total of five candidate-resistance genes (AGAP04177, AGAP004572, AGAP008840, AGAP007530 and AGAP013036) were identified with altered expression between resistant and susceptible mosquitoes from West and East Africa. A change from G to C at position 36043997 of chromosome 3R resulting in A101G of the sulfotransferase gene AGAP009551 was significantly associated with the resistance phenotype (odds ratio: 5.10). The kdr L1014S mutation was detected at similar frequencies in both phenotypically resistant and susceptible mosquitoes, suggesting it is no longer fully predictive of the resistant phenotype. Conclusions: Overall, these results support the conclusion that resistance to pyrethroids is a complex and evolving phenotype, dependent on multiple gene functions including, but not limited to, metabolic detoxification. Functional convergence among metabolic detoxification genes may exist, with the role of each gene being modulated by the life history and selection pressure on mosquito populations. As a consequence, biochemical assays that quantify overall enzyme activity may be a more suitable method for predicting metabolic resistance than gene-based assays.

The mitochondrial genome of Angiostrongylus mackerrasae as a basis for molecular, epidemiological and population genetic studies

Background: Angiostrongylus mackerrasae is a metastrongyloid nematode endemic to Australia, where it infects the native bush rat, Rattus fuscipes. This lungworm has an identical life cycle to that of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, a leading cause of eosinophilic meningitis in humans. The ability of A. mackerrasae to infect non-rodent hosts, specifically the black flying fox, raises concerns as to its zoonotic potential. To date, data on the taxonomy, epidemiology and population genetics of A. mackerrasae are unknown. Here, we describe the mitochondrial (mt) genome of A. mackerrasae with the aim of starting to address these knowledge gaps. Methods: The complete mitochondrial (mt) genome of A. mackerrasae was amplified from a single morphologically identified adult worm, by long-PCR in two overlapping amplicons (8 kb and 10 kb). The amplicons were sequenced using the MiSeq Illumina platform and annotated using an in-house pipeline. Amino acid sequences inferred from individual protein coding genes of the mt genomes were concatenated and then subjected to phylogenetic analysis using Bayesian inference. Results: The mt genome of A. mackerrasae is 13,640 bp in size and contains 12 protein coding genes (cox1-3, nad1-6, nad4L, atp6 and cob), and two ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and 22 transfer RNA (tRNA) genes. Conclusions: The mt genome of A. mackerrasae has similar characteristics to those of other Angiostrongylus species. Sequence comparisons reveal that A. mackerrasae is closely related to A. cantonensis and the two sibling species may have recently diverged compared with all other species in the genus with a highly specific host selection. This mt genome will provide a source of genetic markers for explorations of the epidemiology, biology and population genetics of A. mackerrasae.

Mitochondrial genomes of two phlebotomine sand flies, Phlebotomus chinensis and Phlebotomus papatasi (Diptera: Nematocera), the first representatives from the family Psychodidae

Background: Leishmaniasis is a worldwide but neglected disease of humans and animal transmitted by sand flies, vectors that also transmit other important diseases. Mitochondrial genomes contain abundant information for population genetic and phylogenetic studies, important in disease management. However, the available mitochondrial sequences of these crucial vectors are limited, emphasizing the need for developing more mitochondrial genetic markers. Methods: The complete mitochondrial genome of Phlebotomus chinensis was amplified in eight fragments and sequenced using primer walking. The mitochondrial genome of Phlebotomus papatasi was reconstructed from whole-genome sequencing data available on Genbank. The phylogenetic relationship of 24 selected representatives of Diptera was deduced from codon positions 1 and 2 for 13 protein coding genes, using Bayesian inference (BI) and maximum likelihood (ML) methods. Results: We provide the first Phlebotomus (P. chinensis and P. papatasi) mitochondrial genomes. Both genomes contain 13 protein-coding genes, 22 transfer RNA genes, two ribosomal RNA genes, and an A + T-rich region. The gene order of Phlebotomus mitochondrial genomes is identical with the ancestral gene order of insect. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that Psychodidae and Tanyderidae are sister taxa. Potential markers for population genetic study of Phlebotomus species were also revealed. Conclusion: The generated mitochondrial genomes of P. chinensis and P. papatasi represent a useful resource for comparative genomic studies and provide valuable future markers for the population genetic study of these important Leishmania vectors. Our results also preliminary demonstrate the phylogenetic placement of Psychodidae based on their mitochondrial genomes.

Baseline susceptibility to alpha-cypermethrin in Lutzomyia longipalpis (Lutz &amp; Neiva, 1912) from Lapinha Cave (Brazil)

Background: Given the increase in cases of visceral leishmaniasis in recent years, associated with the socio-economic impact of this disease, as well as the wide distribution of Lutzomyia longipalpis in Brazil and the likelihood that this vector may develop resistance to insecticides used for control, the Ministry of Health considers as crucial the creation of a network in order to study and monitor the resistance of this vector to insecticides used for control. In this sense, this study aimed: 1) to characterize the susceptibility of L. longipalpis from Lapinha Cave (Lagoa Santa, MG - Brazil) to Alfateck SC200 in field bioassays, and 2) to define the susceptibility baseline to alpha-cypermethrin in laboratory bioassays, checking the possibility of using it as susceptibility reference lineage (SRL).FindingsThe field bioassays revealed that the tested population was highly susceptible to alpha-cypermethrin in all time periods with high mortality (~100 %) in all treated surfaces before six months after spraying. In the laboratory bioassays, the studied population presented LD 50 , LD 95 and LD 99 to 0.78013, 10.5580 and 31.067 mg/m 2 , respectively. The slope was 1.454121. Conclusions: The studied population of L. longipalpis was considered as adequate for SRL according criterion recommended by Pan-American Health Organization and has proven susceptibility to tested insecticide in the field. One cannot rule out the possibility of finding populations of L. longipalpis more susceptible to alpha-cypermethrin; therefore, further research is necessary on other populations with potential use as a SRL.

Molecular and Phylogenetic analysis revealed new genotypes of Theileria annulata parasites from India

Background: Tick borne diseases impinge cattle worldwide causing mortality and resulting in huge economic losses. Theileriosis is one of the important tick borne diseases mainly caused by Theileria annulata and one of the commonly occurring infections among the livestock. T. annulata causes immense loss to the livestock industry and therefore, efficacious eradication and control strategies are needed for the control of the disease. Genetic diversity among T. annulata parasites is another important aspect which is overlooked in India. Thus, the present study aims to evaluate the prevalence along with genetic diversity and phylogeny of the prevailing T. annulata population of India. Methods: Genomic DNA was extracted from cattle blood samples (n = 862) from different regions of Andhra Pradesh. Molecular diagnosis using T. annulata 18S rRNA based PCR was performed to detect parasites in cattle. Further, 18S rRNA gene was cloned and sequenced to determine similarity and diversity from the known T. annulata sequences. Results: We observed an overall prevalence rate of 32.40 % T. annulata infection in Andhra Pradesh based on PCR assay. The sequence analysis revealed novel genotypes among the T. annulata strains from India. Thirteen strains showed closed proximity with a strain from China whereas one Indian strain showed similarity with a South African strain [Theileria sp (buffalo)] based on phylogenetic analysis. Nucleotide heterogeneity of the 18S rRNA sequence among the strains examined varied from 0.1 to 8.6 % when compared with the published strains. Conclusion: The present study provides us with the molecular prevalence of theileriosis, and will support the accomplishment of actions or in design of strategy to control theileriosis transmission to cattle. Additionally, it highlights the emergence of strains with novel genotypes from India.