Detection of Galba truncatula, Fasciola hepatica and Calicophoron daubneyi environmental DNA within water sources on pasture land, a future tool for fluke control?

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Abstract

Background: Increasing trematode prevalence and disease occurrence in livestock is a major concern. With the global spread of anthelmintic resistant trematodes, future control strategies must incorporate approaches focusing
on avoidance of infection. The reliance of trematodes on intermediate snail hosts to successfully complete their life-cycle means livestock infections are linked to the availability of respective snail populations. By identifying intermediate snail host habitats, infection risk models may be strengthened whilst farmers may confidently apply pasture management strategies to disrupt the trematode life-cycle. However, accurately identifying and mapping these risk areas is challenging.

Methods:
In this study, environmental DNA (eDNA) assays were designed to reveal Galba truncatula, Fasciola hepatica and Calicophoron daubneyi presence within water sources on pasture land. eDNA was captured using a filter-based protocol, with DNA extracted using the DNeasy® PowerSoil® kit and amplified via PCR. In total, 19 potential G. truncatula habitats were analysed on four farms grazed by livestock infected with both F. hepatica and C. daubneyi.

Results:
Galba truncatula eDNA was identified in 10/10 habitats where the snail was detected by eye. Galba truncatula eDNA was also identified in four further habitats where the snail was not physically detected. Fasciola hepatica and
C. daubneyi eDNA was also identified in 5/19 and 8/19 habitats, respectively.

Conclusions:
This study demonstrated that eDNA assays have the capabilities of detecting G. truncatula, F. hepatica and C. daubneyi DNA in the environment. Further assay development will be required for a field test capable of identifying and quantifying F. hepatica and C. daubneyi infection risk areas, to support future control strategies. An eDNA test would also be a powerful new tool for epidemiological investigations of parasite infections on farms.

Keywords

  • Galba truncatula, Fasciola hepatica, Calicophoron daubneyi, environmental DNA, trematode, snail