A molecular assessment of Ostertagia leptospicularis and Spiculopteragia asymmetrica among wild fallow deer in Northern Ireland and implications for false detection of livestock-associated species

Maggie Lyons, Tony L. Brown, Angela Lahuerta-Marin, Eric R. Morgan, Paul M. Airs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background
Wild deer populations utilizing livestock grazing areas risk cross-species transmission of gastrointestinal nematode parasites (GINs), including GINs with anthelmintic resistance (AR) traits. Wild deer have been shown to carry problematic GIN species such as Haemonchus contortus and Trichostrongylus species in the UK, but the presence of livestock GINs in Northern Ireland deer populations is unknown. Also, is it not known whether AR traits exist among GINs of deer such as Ostertagia leptospicularis and Spiculopteragia asymmetrica in pastureland where anthelmintics are heavily used.

Methods
Adult-stage GIN samples were retrieved from Northern Irish wild fallow deer abomasa. Individual specimens were subject to a species-specific PCR analysis for common sheep and cattle GIN species with ITS-2 sequence analysis to validate species identities. In addition, the beta-tubulin gene was subject to sequencing to identify benzimidazole (BZ) resistance markers.

Results
ITS-2 sequencing revealed O. leptospicularis and S. asymmetrica, but species-specific PCR yielded false-positive hits for H. contortus, Teladorsagia circimcincta, Trichostrongylus axei, T. colubriformis, T. vitrinus and Ostertagia ostertagi. For beta-tubulin, O. leptospicularis and S. asymmetrica yielded species-specific sequences at the E198 codon, but no resistance markers were identified in either species at positions 167, 198 or 200 of the coding region.

Discussion
From this report, no GIN species of significance in livestock were identified among Northern Ireland fallow deer. However, false-positive PCR hits for sheep and cattle-associated GINs is concerning as the presence of deer species in livestock areas could impact both deer and livestock diagnostics and lead to overestimation of both GIN burden in deer and the role as of deer as drivers of these pathogens. ITS-2 sequences from both O. leptospicularis and S. asymmetrica show minor sequence variations to geographically distinct isolates. AR has been noted among GINs of deer but molecular analyses are lacking for GINs of wildlife. In producing the first beta-tubulin sequences for both O. leptospicularis and S. asymmetrica, we report no BZ resistance in this cohort.

Conclusions
This work contributes to genetic resources for wildlife species and considers the implications of such species when performing livestock GIN diagnostics.

Original languageEnglish
Article number141
Number of pages10
JournalParasites and Vectors
Volume17
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2024

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