Genetic diversity and population structure of Angiostrongylus vasorum parasites within and between local urban foxes (Vulpes Vulpes)

Blanch-Lazaro, B and Mitton, Z and Tudor, C and Hindle, J and Martineau, H and Fox, M T and Blake, D P (2018) Genetic diversity and population structure of Angiostrongylus vasorum parasites within and between local urban foxes (Vulpes Vulpes). VETERINARY PARASITOLOGY, 262. pp. 42-46.

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Abstract

Angiostrongylus vasorum is a nematode parasite of the pulmonary arteries and heart that infects domestic and wild canids. Dogs (Canis familiaris) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) are the most commonly affected definitive hosts. Recent studies suggest that angiostrongylosis is an emerging disease, and that red foxes may play an important role in the epidemiology of the parasite. Genetic analyses of parasites collected from dogs and foxes throughout Europe have shown that the same parasite haplotypes are commonly shared between different host species. However, the extent of genetic diversity within local A. vasorum populations and individual hosts is unknown. The objective of the present study was to assess the occurrence of genetic diversity among A. vasorum (a) recovered from different foxes within the Greater London area (a localised population, single worm per fox dataset); and (b) hosted within single foxes (multiple worms per fox dataset). During 2016, A. vasorum worms were collected from foxes culled for other purposes in London. DNA was extracted from each parasite and a partial fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (mtCOI) gene was amplified and sequenced. Sequences from the single worm dataset were compared with those published elsewhere. Combined, 19 haplotypes were described of which 15 were identified from foxes found in London, indicating that considerable genetic diversity can be detected within a local geographic area. Analysis of the multiple worm dataset identified 22 haplotypes defining worms recovered from just six foxes, emphasising the relevance of wild canines as reservoirs of genetic diversity. This is the first study to explore the genetic complexity of individual fox-hosted A. vasorum populations

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