Contrasting population genetics of cattle-and buffalo-derived Theileria annulata causing tropical theileriosis

Umer Naveed Chaudhry, Qasim Ali, Lynn Zheng, Imran Rashid, Muhammad Zubair Shabbir, Muhammad Nauman Zahid, Kamran Ashraf, Mike Evans , Shahzad Rafiq, Muhammad Oneeb, Ivan Morrison, Neil Sargison

Research output: Working paper


The present study was designed to improve understanding of Theileria annulata in sympatric water buffalo and cattle in the Punjab province of Pakistan. The prevalence of tropical theileriosis is high, buparvaquone resistance is widespread, and vaccine protection is poor in the field. Better understanding is, therefore, needed of the factors that influence the genetics of T. annulata populations both within its hosts and in its overall populations. Here we utilise a panel of six satellites and a mitochondrial cytochrome b marker to explore the multiplicity of T. annulata infection and patterns of emergence and spread of different parasite genotypes. Parasite materials were collected from infected animals in defined regions, where water buffalo and cattle are kept together. Our results show that T. annulata is genetically more diverse in cattle-than in water buffalo-derived populations (the mean numbers of unique satellite alleles were 13.3 and 1.8 and numbers of unique cytochrome b locus alleles were 65 and 27 in cattle- and water buffalo-derived populations, respectively). The data show a high level of genetic diversity among the individual host-derived populations (the overall heterozygosity (He) indices were 0.912 and 0.931 in cattle, and 0.874 and 0.861 in buffalo, based on satellite and cytochrome b loci, respectively). When considered in the context of high parasite transmission rates and frequent animal movements between different regions, the predominance of multiple T. annulata genotypes, with multiple introductions of infection in the hosts from which the parasite populations were derived, may have practical implications for the spread of parasite genetic adaptations; such as those conferring vaccine cross-protection against different strains affecting cattle and buffalo, or resistance to antiprotozoal drugs.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherbioRxiv, at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Publication statusPublished - 11 Jan 2020


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