A total of 8 calves approximately 6 months old and 22 lambs of similar age were infected with metacercariae of Fasciola hepatica of various laboratory-maintained isolates including: Cullompton (sensitive to triclabendazole) and Sligo, Oberon and Leon (reported as resistant to triclabendazole). Ten to 16 weeks after infection, flukes were harvested from these experimental animals and the histology of the testis tissue was examined in a representative sample of flukes from each population. Adult wild-type flukes were also collected from 5 chronically infected cattle and 7 chronically infected sheep identified at post-mortem inspection. The testis tissue of these flukes was compared with that of the various laboratory-maintained isolates. Whilst the testes of the wild-type, Oberon and Leon flukes displayed all the usual cell types associated with spermatogenesis in Fasciola hepatica (spermatogonia, spermatocytes, spermatids and mature sperm), the Cullompton flukes from both cattle and sheep showed arrested spermatogenesis, with no stages later than primary spermatocytes represented in the testis profiles. The presence of numerous eosinophilic apoptotic bodies and nuclear fragments suggested that meiotic division was anomalous and incomplete. In contrast to the wild-type flukes, no mature spermatozoa were present in the testes or amongst the shelled eggs in the uterus. A high proportion of the eggs collected from these flukes hatched to release normal-appearing miracidia after an appropriate incubation period, as indeed was the case with all isolates examined and the wild-type flukes. It is concluded that the eggs of Cullompton flukes are capable of development without fertilization, i.e. are parthenogenetic. The implications of this for rapid evolution of resistant clones following an anthelmintic selection event are discussed. Amongst the Sligo flukes examined, two subtypes were recognised, namely, those flukes with all stages of spermatogenesis and mature spermatozoa present in the testes (type 1), and those flukes with all stages of spermatogenesis up to spermatids present, but no maturing spermatozoa in the testes (type 2). Each sheep infected with the Sligo isolate had both type 1 (approximately 60%) and type 2 (approximately 40%) flukes present in the population. Spermatozoa were found amongst the eggs in the uterus in 64% of flukes and this did not necessarily reflect the occurrence of spermatozoa in the testis profiles of particular flukes, suggesting that cross-fertilization had occurred. The apparent disruption of meiosis in the spermatocytes of the Cullompton flukes is consistent with reports that Cullompton flukes are triploid (3n = 30), whereas the Sligo and wild-type flukes are diploid (2n = 20). In the Sligo flukes the populations are apparently genetically heterogenous, with a proportion of the flukes unable to produce fully formed spermatozoa perhaps because of a failure in spermiogenesis involving elongation of the nucleus during morphogenesis. (C) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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