Date of this Version
2002 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
To date, there are no data available on the population genetics of Trichinella due to the lack of genetic markers and the difficulty of working with such small parasites. In the Arctic region of North America and along the Rocky Mountains, there exist two genotypes of Trichinella, Trichinella nativa and Trichinella T6, respectively, which are well differentiated by biochemical and molecular characters. However, both are resistant to freezing, show other common biological characters (e.g. low or no infectivity to rodents and swine) and produce fertile F1 offspring upon interbreeding. To data, these two genotypes have been considered allopatric. In this study, we detected both genotypes in wolves of the same wolf packs in Alaska, suggesting sympatry. A single GTT trinucleotide present in the ITS-2 sequence of T. nativa but not in Trichinella T6 was used as a genetic marker to study gene flow for this character in both a murine infection model and in larvae from naturally-infected Alaskan wolves. Only F1 larvae originating from a cross between T. nativa male and Trichinella T6 female were able to produce F2 offspring. Larvae (F1) originating from a cross between Trichinella T6 male and T. nativa female were not reproductively viable. As expected, all F1 larvae showed a heterozygote pattern for the GTT character upon heteroduplex analysis; however, within the F2 population, the number of observed heterozygotes (n 1⁄4 52) was substantially higher than expected (n 1⁄4 39.08), as supported by the Fis index, and was not in the Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. Larvae from two of the 16 Trichinella positive Alaskan wolves, showed the Trichinella T6 pattern or the T. nativa/Trichinella T6 hybrid pattern. Our data demonstrate that T. nativa and Trichinella T6 live in sympatry at least in Alaskan wolves, where T. nativa occurs more frequently (69%) than Trichinella T6 (31%). One explanation for this phenomenon is that glacial periods may have caused a geographical relocation, colonisation and independent evolution of T. nativa within the Rocky Mountains, resulting in a bifurcation of the freeze-resistant genotype. Additional studies will be required to test this hypothesis. q 2002 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc.