TitleA combined parasitological molecular approach for noninvasive characterization of parasitic nematode communities in wild hosts.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsBudischak, SA, Hoberg, EP, Abrams, A, Jolles, AE, Ezenwa, VO
JournalMol Ecol Resour
Date Published2015 Sep
KeywordsAnimals, Animals, Wild, Buffaloes, DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic, Helminthiasis, Helminthiasis, Animal, Intestinal Diseases, Parasitic, Molecular Diagnostic Techniques, Molecular Sequence Data, Nematoda, Nematode Infections, Parasite Load, Selection Bias, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Specimen Handling

Most hosts are concurrently or sequentially infected with multiple parasites; thus, fully understanding interactions between individual parasite species and their hosts depends on accurate characterization of the parasite community. For parasitic nematodes, noninvasive methods for obtaining quantitative, species-specific infection data in wildlife are often unreliable. Consequently, characterization of gastrointestinal nematode communities of wild hosts has largely relied on lethal sampling to isolate and enumerate adult worms directly from the tissues of dead hosts. The necessity of lethal sampling severely restricts the host species that can be studied, the adequacy of sample sizes to assess diversity, the geographic scope of collections and the research questions that can be addressed. Focusing on gastrointestinal nematodes of wild African buffalo, we evaluated whether accurate characterization of nematode communities could be made using a noninvasive technique that combined conventional parasitological approaches with molecular barcoding. To establish the reliability of this new method, we compared estimates of gastrointestinal nematode abundance, prevalence, richness and community composition derived from lethal sampling with estimates derived from our noninvasive approach. Our noninvasive technique accurately estimated total and species-specific worm abundances, as well as worm prevalence and community composition when compared to the lethal sampling method. Importantly, the rate of parasite species discovery was similar for both methods, and only a modest number of barcoded larvae (n = 10) were needed to capture key aspects of parasite community composition. Overall, this new noninvasive strategy offers numerous advantages over lethal sampling methods for studying nematode-host interactions in wildlife and can readily be applied to a range of study systems.

Alternate JournalMol Ecol Resour
PubMed ID25644900