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Published November 1, 2015 | public
Journal Article Open

Cracking the nodule worm code advances knowledge of parasite biology and biotechnology to tackle major diseases of livestock


Many infectious diseases caused by eukaryotic pathogens have a devastating, long-term impact on animal health and welfare. Hundreds of millions of animals are affected by parasitic nematodes of the order Strongylida. Unlocking the molecular biology of representatives of this order, and understanding nematode–host interactions, drug resistance and disease using advanced technologies could lead to entirely new ways of controlling the diseases that they cause. Oesophagostomum dentatum (nodule worm; superfamily Strongyloidea) is an economically important strongylid nematode parasite of swine worldwide. The present article reports recent advances made in biology and animal biotechnology through the draft genome and developmental transcriptome of O. dentatum, in order to support biological research of this and related parasitic nematodes as well as the search for new and improved interventions. This first genome of any member of the Strongyloidea is 443 Mb in size and predicted to encode 25,291 protein-coding genes. Here, we review the dynamics of transcription throughout the life cycle of O. dentatum, describe double-stranded RNA interference (RNAi) machinery and infer molecules involved in development and reproduction, and in inducing or modulating immune responses or disease. The secretome predicted for O. dentatum is particularly rich in peptidases linked to interactions with host tissues and/or feeding activity, and a diverse array of molecules likely involved in immune responses. This research progress provides an important resource for future comparative genomic and molecular biological investigations as well as for biotechnological research toward new anthelmintics, vaccines and diagnostic tests.

Additional Information

© 2015 Elsevier Inc. Received 13 April 2015, Accepted 23 May 2015, Available online 27 May 2015. The authors thank the faculty and staff of the Genome Institute at Washington University who contributed the work described in this article. The genome sequencing and annotation work was funded by US National Institutes of Health grant U54HG003079 to R.K.W. Comparative genome analysis was funded by grants AI081803 and GM097435 to M.M. P.W.S. is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. RBG's research was supported by the Australian Research Council (SRC), the National Health & Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) and the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VR0007).

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August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023