Molecular diagnostics for gastrointestinal helminths in equids: Past, present and future

Abdul Ghafar, Ghazanfar Abbas, Anne Beasley, Jenni Bauquier, Edwina J.A. Wilkes, Caroline Jacobson, Emma McConnell, Charles El-Hage, Peter Carrigan, Lucy Cudmore, Brett Tennent-Brown, John Hurley, Martin K. Nielsen, Charles G. Gauci, Ian Beveridge, Kristopher J. Hughes, Abdul Jabbar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This review is aimed to (i) appraise the literature on the use of molecular techniques for the detection, quantification and differentiation of gastrointestinal helminths (GIH) of equids, (ii) identify the knowledge gaps and, (iii) discuss diagnostic prospects in equine parasitology. Following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines for systematic reviews, we retrieved 54 studies (horses: 50/54; donkeys and zebras: 4/54) from four databases. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was employed in all of the studies whereas PCR amplicons were sequenced in only 18 of them. Other techniques used (including modifications of PCR) were reverse line blot, quantitative (q)PCR, restriction fragment length polymorphism, nested-PCR, PCR-directed next-generation sequencing, Southern blotting, single strand conformation polymorphism, PCR-enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionisation-time of flight and random amplification of polymorphic DNA. Most of the studies (53/54) used nuclear ribosomal RNA (including the internal transcribed spacers, intergenic spacer, 5.8 S, 18 S, 28 S and 12 S) as target loci while cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 and random genomic regions were targeted in only three and one studies, respectively. Overall, to date, the majority of molecular studies have focused on the diagnosis and identification of GIHs of equids (i.e. species of Anoplocephala, Craterostomum, cyathostomins, Oesophagodontus, Parascaris, Strongylus, Strongyloides and Triodontophorus), with a recent shift towards investigations on anthelmintic resistance and the use of high-throughput nemabiome metabarcoding. With the increasing reports of anthelmintic resistance in equid GIHs, it is crucial to develop and apply techniques such as advanced metabarcoding for surveillance of parasite populations in order to gain detailed insights into their diversity and sustainable control. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first systematic review that evaluates molecular investigations published on the diagnosis and quantification of equid GIHs and provides useful insights into important knowledge gaps and future research directions in equid molecular parasitology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number109851
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalVeterinary Parasitology
Early online date05 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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