Electrophoresis, Vol.24, No.14, 2308-2315, 2003
Molecular epidemiological investigation of Ascaris genotypes in China based on single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis of ribosomal DNA
Using a single-strand conformation polymorphism-based approach, we investigated nucleotide variation in part of the first internal transcribed spacer (pITS-1) of nuclear ribosomal DNA within and among a large number of Ascaris individuals from humans and pigs from six endemic regions in China, and examined the frequency of the different genotypes of Ascaris in relation to host species and geographical origin. Five different SSCP genotypes (G1-G5) were recorded for human Ascaris (n = 486), of which three (genotypes G1-G3) were detected for pig Ascaris (n = 329). Of the five Ascaris genotypes detected, genotype G1 predominantly infected humans (similar to63-74%) whereas genotype G3 infected mainly pigs (similar to79-86%), indicating that each of these genotypes has a particular host affiliation. In contrast, the frequencies of the other three genotypes was substantially lower for each of the two host species. The findings also suggested that the rate of cross infection of Ascaris between humans and pigs is relatively low and that gene flow between the predominant genotypes is limited, consistent with previous proposals for endemic regions in other countries. While the nature and extent of nucleotide variation in the pITS-1 (and the proposal of host affiliated Ascaris populations) may relate to "introgression" or "lineage sorting and retention of ancentral polymorphism", other explanations are possible. Evidence of multiple pITS-1 sequence types in some Ascaris individuals representing particular genotypes (e.g., G2 and G5) may suggest hybridization between human- and pig-affiliated Ascaris. This aspect and the species status of Ascaris (from each host species) warrant future experimental testing, employing the pig/Ascaris model and the present electrophoretic approach.