Development of amplicon sequencing for the analysis of benzimidazole resistance allele frequencies in field populations of gastrointestinal nematodes

Neil Sargison, Madison MacLeay, Alison Morrison, David Jon Bartley, Mike Evans, Umer Chaudhry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Anthelmintic resistant gastrointestinal helminths have become a major cause of poor health in sheep and goats. Sensitive and specific molecular markers are needed to monitor the genotypic frequency of resistance in field parasite populations. Gastrointestinal nematode resistance to benzimidazole is caused by a mutation in one of three positions within the isotype 1 β-tubulin gene. In the absence of markers for resistance to the other broad spectrum anthelmintic classes, these provide a relevant study example. Determination of the prevalence of these single nucleotide polymorphisms in field nematode populations can be impractical using conventional molecular methods to examine individual parasites; which can be laborious and lack sensitivity in determining low levels of resistance in parasite populations. Here, we report the development of a novel method based on an Illumina MiSeq deep amplicon sequencing platform to sequence the isotype 1 β-tubulin locus of the small ruminant gastrointestinal nematode, Teladorsagia circumcincta, and determine the frequency of the benzimidazole resistance mutations. We validated the method by assessing sequence representation bias, comparing the results of Illumina MiSeq and pyrosequencing, and applying the method to populations containing known proportions of resistant and susceptible larvae. We applied the method to field samples collected from ewes and lambs on over a period of one year on three farms, each highlighting different aspects of sheep management and approaches to parasite control. The results show opportunities to build hypotheses with reference to selection pressures leading to differences in resistance allele frequencies between sampling dates, farms and ewes or lambs, and to consider the impact of their genetic fixation or otherwise. This study provides proof of concept of a practical, accurate, sensitive and scalable method to determine frequency of anthelmintic resistance mutations in gastrointestinal nematodes in field studies and as a management tool for livestock farmers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-100
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology: Drugs and Drug Resistance
Early online date13 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 13 Aug 2019


  • Gastrointestinal nematode;
  • Teladorsagia circumcincta;
  • Anthelmintic
  • Benzimidazole
  • Isotype 1 β-tubulin locus
  • Deep amplicon sequencing


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