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    A relatively new method to study the species richness and diversity of nematode parasites in grazing animals is to perform deep sequencing on composite samples containing a mixture of parasites. In this work, we compared species composition of strongyles in two groups of horses as a function of egg count and age, based on a DNA barcoding approach. Faecal egg counts and larval cultures were obtained from nearly 300 horses, i.e., domestic horses (n = 167) and trotters (n = 130) sampled nationwide. The second internal transcribed spacer region (ITS2) of strongyle nematodes in the larval cultures was first amplified using barcoded universal primers and then sequenced on the PacBio platform. Subsequently, bioinformatic sequence analysis was performed using SCATA to assign operational taxonomic units (OTU). Finally, species occurrence and composition were assessed using R. ITS2 sequences were found in the majority (89%) of larval samples. Sequencing yielded an average of 140 (26 to 503) reads per sample. The OTUs were assigned to 28 different taxa, of which all but three could be identified as species. The average relative abundance of the seven most abundant species (all Cyathostominae) accounted for 87% of the combined data set. The three species with the highest prevalence in both horse groups were Cyathostomum catinatum, Cylicocyclus nassatus and Cylicostephanus calicatus, and they were frequently found in different combinations with other species regardless of horse group. Interestingly, this result is largely consistent with a previous Swedish study based on morphological analysis of adult worms. In addition, two migratory strongylids (Strongylus vulgaris and S. edentatus) occurred in few domestic horses and trotters. Except for C. minutus and C. nassatus, which decreased with age, and C. catinatum and S. vulgaris, which increased, no specific trends were observed with respect to horse age. Taken together, these results are broadly consistent with data obtained before the introduction of selective targeted treatment in Sweden in 2007. All in all, our results suggest that this treatment strategy has not led to a significant change in strongyle nematode community structure in Swedish horses. The study also confirms that nemabiome analysis in combination with diversity index analysis is an objective method to study strongyle communities in horses. Copyright © 2024 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Citation

    Peter Halvarsson, Giulio Grandi, Sara Hägglund, Johan Höglund. Gastrointestinal parasite community structure in horses after the introduction of selective anthelmintic treatment strategies. Veterinary parasitology. 2024 Feb;326:110111

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    PMID: 38218052

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