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Asian Admixture in European Echinococcus multilocularis Populations: New Data From Poland Comparing EmsB Microsatellite Analyses and Mitochondrial Sequencing

Abstract : The cestode Echinococcus multilocularis is the causative agent of a severe zoonotic disease: alveolar echinococcosis (AE). The parasite is distributed over a vast area in northern Eurasia and North America, but the impact of AE on human health is highly uneven between different regions. One hypothetical reason for this difference in virulence may be the genetic structure of E. multilocularis which—based on mitochondrial sequences and EmsB microsatellite profiles—forms four distinct clades. These clades correspond approximately to their continents of origin: Asia, Europe, and North America, with a fourth clade apparently restricted to Mongolia and neighboring regions, even though this clade has not yet been described by EmsB genotyping. However, there are various records of genetic variants from the “wrong” region, e.g., “European” haplotypes in Western Canada, which may be the result of introduction or natural migration of host animals. One such example, prompting this study, is the recent record of an “Asian” mitochondrial haplotype in worms from foxes in Poland. At the time, this could not be confirmed by EmsB microsatellite analysis, a method that has proven to possess greater discriminatory power with the E. multilocularis nuclear genome than sequencing of mitochondrial markers. Therefore, worms collected from foxes in Poland were examined both by EmsB analysis and sequencing of the full mitochondrial cox1 gene in order to allocate the samples to the European or Asian cluster. Based on EmsB analyses of 349 worms from 97 Polish red foxes, 92% of the worms clearly showed “European-type” EmsB profiles, but 27 worms (8%) from seven foxes showed profiles that clustered with samples of Asian origin. According to cox1 sequences, a total of 18 worms from 8 foxes belonged to the Asian cluster of haplotypes. The two methods did not fully agree: only 13 worms from three foxes belonged to Asian clusters by both EmsB and cox1 , whereas 18 worms from nine foxes belonged to different clusters, according to each marker. Cross-fertilization between worms of Asian origin and those from the European Polish population may explain these conflicting results. The presence of clearly Asian elements in the Polish E. multilocularis population could be the result of introduction of E. multilocularis with host animals (e.g., domestic dogs), or the migration of foxes. In the absence of genetic data from eastern European countries, especially those bordering Poland, it cannot be concluded whether this Asian admixture is typical for a larger area toward central/eastern Europe, or the Polish parasite population is the western extreme of a gradient where both European and Asian elements mingle. Further studies are needed on this subject, preferably using both mitochondrial sequencing and EmsB microsatellite analysis.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 1:40:54 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, December 14, 2021 - 10:30:37 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, January 20, 2022 - 7:02:19 PM


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Gérald Umhang, Jenny Knapp, Marion Wassermann, Vanessa Bastid, Carine Peytavin de Garam, et al.. Asian Admixture in European Echinococcus multilocularis Populations: New Data From Poland Comparing EmsB Microsatellite Analyses and Mitochondrial Sequencing. Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Frontiers Media, 2021, 7, pp.620722. ⟨10.3389/fvets.2020.620722⟩. ⟨anses-03292881⟩



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