The microbial community associated with Parascaris spp. infecting juvenile horses

Jennifer L. Cain, Jamie K. Norris, Nichol E. Ripley, Parul Suri, Constance A. Finnerty, Holli S. Gravatte, Martin K. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Parasitic nematodes, including large roundworms colloquially known as ascarids, affect the health and well-being of livestock animals worldwide. The equine ascarids, Parascaris spp., are important parasites of juvenile horses and the first ascarids to develop widespread anthelmintic resistance. The microbiota has been shown to be an important factor in the fitness of many organisms, including parasitic nematodes, where endosymbiotic Wolbachia have been exploited for treatment of filariasis in humans. Methods: This study used short-read 16S rRNA sequences and Illumina sequencing to characterize and compare microbiota of whole worm small intestinal stages and microbiota of male and female intestines and gonads. Diversity metrics including alpha and beta diversity, and the differential abundance analyses DESeq2, ANCOM-BC, corncob, and metagenomeSeq were used for comparisons. Results: Alpha and beta diversity of whole worm microbiota did not differ significantly between groups, but Simpson alpha diversity was significantly different between female intestine (FI) and male gonad (MG) (P= 0.0018), and Shannon alpha diversity was significantly different between female and male gonads (P = 0.0130), FI and horse jejunum (HJ) (P = 0.0383), and FI and MG (P= 0.0001). Beta diversity (Fig. 2B) was significantly different between female and male gonads (P = 0.0006), male intestine (MI) and FG (P = 0.0093), and MG and FI (P = 0.0041). When comparing organs, Veillonella was differentially abundant for DESeq2 and ANCOM-BC (p < 0.0001), corncob (P = 0.0008), and metagenomeSeq (P = 0.0118), and Sarcina was differentially abundant across four methods (P < 0.0001). Finally, the microbiota of all individual Parascaris spp. specimens were compared to establish shared microbiota between groups. Conclusions: Overall, this study provided important information regarding the Parascaris spp. microbiota and provides a first step towards determining whether the microbiota may be a viable target for future parasite control options. Graphical abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish
Article number408
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Ascarid
  • Equine parasite
  • Nematode
  • Parascaris
  • Parasite
  • Parasite microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • General Veterinary
  • Parasitology


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