Paratrichosoma-associated helminthiasis has been identified in saltwater crocodiles under intensive farming conditions. The development of sustainable integrated management practices is dependent on a detailed understanding of Paratrichosoma population genetics and infection dynamics. This study investigated the genetic relationships of Paratrichosoma sp in a population of commercially farmed saltwater crocodiles, Crocodylus porosus, in northern Australia. 18S ribosomal RNA gene sequence data were obtained from Paratrichosoma sp eggs present in the epidermis of infected animals. A high level of genetic diversity was distributed within the Paratrichosoma sp population (241 variable positions in the 1094 bp alignment), indicating an accelerated rate of nucleotide base-pair substitutions in this genus of nematodes. Several possible environmental correlates of the incidence and intensity of helminthiasis, including season, rainfall, and mean monthly temperature, were investigated by visual inspection of crocodile skins. Stepwise logistic regression revealed a significant negative linear relationship (P = 0.011, R2 = 32.69 %) between mean monthly rainfall and the incidence of monthly Paratrichosoma-associated helminthiasis. Variation in the severity of Paratrichosoma-associated helminthiasis could not be explained by any of the independent environmental variables included within an ordinal regression analysis. The large genetic diversity in these nematodes indicates a high probability of anthelmintic resistant alleles occurring in the population. We discuss how the spread of these alleles may be mitigated by adopting targeted treatment protocols.
- Intensive production systems
- Parasite management