Evidence for high genetic diversity of NAD1 and COX1 mitochondrial haplotypes among triclabendazole resistant and susceptible populations and field isolates of Fasciola hepatica (liver fluke) in Australia
In recent years, the global incidence of Fasciola hepatica (liver fluke) infections exhibiting resistance to triclabendazole (TCBZ) has increased, resulting in increased economic losses for livestock producers and threatening future control. The development of TCBZ resistance and the worldwide discovery of F. hepatica population diversity has emphasized the need to further understand the genetic structure of drug susceptible and resistant Fasciola populations within Australia. In this study, the genetic diversity of liver flukes was estimated by sequencing mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) encoding the NAD1 (530 bp) and COX1 (420 bp) genes of 208 liver flukes (F. hepatica) collected from three populations: field isolates obtained from abattoirs from New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria (Vic); three TCBZ-resistant fluke populations from NSW and Victoria; and the well-established TCBZ-susceptible Sunny Corner laboratory isolate. Overall nucleotide diversity for all flukes analysed of 0.00516 and 0.00336 was estimated for the NAD1 and COX1 genes respectively. Eighteen distinct haplotypes were established for the NAD1 gene and six haplotypes for the COX1 gene, resulting in haplotype diversity levels of 0.832 and 0.482, respectively. One field isolate showed a similar low level of haplotype diversity as seen in the Sunny Corner laboratory isolate. Analysis of TCBZ-resistant infrapopulations from 3 individual cattle grazing one property revealed considerable sequence parasite diversity between cattle. Analysis of parasite TCBZ-resistant infrapopulations from sheep and cattle revealed haplotypes unique to each host, but no significant difference between parasite populations. Fst analysis of fluke populations revealed little differentiation between the resistant and field populations. This study has revealed a high level of diversity in field and drug resistant flukes in South-Eastern Australia.