The equine ascarids: resuscitating historic model organisms for modern purposes

Jennifer L. Cain, Martin K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The equine ascarids, Parascaris spp., are important nematode parasites of juvenile horses and were historically model organisms in the field of cell biology, leading to many important discoveries, and are used for the study of chromatin diminution. In veterinary parasitology, Parascaris spp. are important not only because they can cause clinical disease in young horses but also because they are the only ascarid parasites to have developed widespread anthelmintic resistance. Despite this, much of the general biology and mechanisms of anthelmintic resistance are poorly understood. This review condenses known basic biological information and knowledge on the mechanisms of anthelmintic resistance in Parascaris spp., highlighting the importance of foundational research programs. Although two variants of this parasite were recognized based on the number of chromosomes in the 1870s and suggested to be two species in 1890, one of these, P. univalens, appears to have been largely forgotten in the veterinary scientific literature over the past 100 years. We describe how this omission has had a century-long effect on nomenclature and data analysis in the field, highlighting the importance of proper specimen identification in public repositories. A summary of important basic biology, including life cycle, in vitro maintenance, and immunology, is given, and areas of future research for the improvement of knowledge and development of new systems are given. Finally, the limited knowledge regarding anthelmintic resistance in Parascaris spp. is summarized, along with caution regarding assumptions that resistance mechanisms can be applied across clades.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2775-2791
Number of pages17
JournalParasitology Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • Anthelmintic resistance
  • Ascarid
  • Equine
  • Nematode
  • Parascaris
  • Parasite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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