A diverse microbial community and common core microbiota associated with the gonad of female Parascaris spp.

Jennifer L. Cain, Jamie K. Norris, Melissa P. Swan, Martin K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The microbiome plays an important role in health, where changes in microbiota composition can have significant downstream effects within the host, and host–microbiota relationships can be exploited to affect health outcomes. Parasitic helminths affect animals globally, but an exploration of their microbiota has been limited, despite the development of anti-Wolbachia drugs to help control infections with some filarial nematodes. The equine ascarids, Parascaris spp., are considered the most pathogenic nematodes affecting juvenile horses and are also the only ascarid parasite to have developed widespread anthelmintic resistance. The aim of this study was to characterize the microbiota of this helminth, focusing on the female gonad, determine a core microbiota for this organ, identify bacterial species, and show bacterial localization to the female gonad via in situ hybridization (ISH). A total of 22 gonads were isolated from female Parascaris spp. collected from three foals, and 9 female parasites were formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded for ISH. Next-generation sequencing was performed using V3-V4 primers as well as the Swift Amplicon™ 16S+ ITS Panel. Overall, ten genera were identified as members of the Parascaris spp. female gonad and twelve bacterial species were identified. The most prevalent genus was Mycoplasma, followed by Reyranella, and there were no differences in alpha diversity between parasites from different horses. Specific eubacteria staining was identified in both the intestine and within the gonad using ISH. Overall, this study provided in-depth information regarding the female Parascaris spp. microbiota and was the first to identify the core microbiota within a specific parasite organ.

Original languageEnglish
Article number56
JournalParasitology Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Equine ascarid
  • Female gonad
  • Microbiome
  • Microbiota
  • Parascaris spp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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