Rolling Plains Quail Research Ranch

Parasitology

Parasites in Bobwhite QuailOxyspirura petrowi appears to be emerging as a nematode parasite that could negatively impact Northern Bobwhite quail individuals and populations within Texas and other regions of the United States. Despite this eye worm’s potential importance in the conservation of wild quail, little is known about the general biology and genome composition of O. petrowi. To fill the knowledge gap, we performed a small scale random genome sequence survey, sequenced its 18S rRNA and the intergenic region between the 18S and 28S rRNA genes, studied its phylogenetic affinity, and developed a PCR protocol for the detection of this eye worm.Results: We have generated ~240 kb of genome sequence data derived from 348 clones by a random genome survey of an O. petrowi genomic library. The eye worm genome is AT-rich (i.e., 62.2% AT-content), and contains a high number of microsatellite sequences. The discovered genes encode a wide-range of proteins including hypothetical proteins, enzymes, nematode-specific proteins. Phylogenetic analysis based on 18S rRNA sequences indicate that the Spiruroidea is paraphyletic, in which Oxyspirura and its closely related species are sisters to the filarial nematodes. We have also developed a PCR protocol based on the ITS2 sequence that allows sensitive and specific detection of eye worm DNA in feces. Using this newly developed protocol, we have determined that ~28% to 33% of the fecal samples collected from Northern Bobwhites and Scaled Quail in Texas in the spring of 2013 are O. petrowi positive.

Conclusions: The O. petrowi genome is rich in microsatellite sequences that may be used in future genotyping and molecular fingerprinting analysis. This eye worm is evolutionarily close to the filarial nematodes, implying that therapeutic strategies for filariasis such as Loa loa would be referential in developing treatments for the Thelazoidea parasites. Our qPCR-based survey has confirmed that O. petrowi infection is of potential concern to quail managers in Texas.


Survey for Trichomonas gallinae and Assessment of Helminth Parasites in Bobwhites from the Rolling Plains Ecoregion – Seldom do researchers consider parasitic infections as factors in bobwhite population decline. As a result, their impacts are not well understood or outdated. In an attempt to gain new information on the parasite community found in bobwhites and their potential impacts, a 3-year helminth and disease survey was conducted throughout the Rolling Plains. The objectives of this study are to assess the helminth community and relate it to parameters such as bobwhite age, sex, month, year, body weight, and location as well as identify potential pathological responses caused by the eyeworm Oxyspirura petrowi. Samples for the presence of the protozoan, Trichomonas gallinae (commonly found causing mortality in doves) were also taken from live bobwhites from 2011 to 2013, however presence has yet to be detected. Northern bobwhites taken from Operation Idiopathic Decline and hunter donations from 2011 to 2013 are currently being necropsied. So far, eleven species of helminths have been with Aulonocephalus pennula (cecal worms) (85% infected), O. petrowi (eyeworms) (53%), and Tetrameres pattersoni (proventricular worms) (21%) being the most frequently occurring species. The most impressive infections we’ve found in single hosts were 84 eyeworms and 1,1,62 cecal worms. Eye tissue (eye surface and intra-orbital glands) from infected and uninfected bobwhites was collected and processed to assess damage caused by the worm. Preliminary results show corneal scarring and inflammation in the intra-orbital glands. The final results of the present study will advance our understanding of helminth parasites that occur in bobwhites across the Rolling Plains ecoregion in Texas and western Oklahoma and provide an assessment of their role in potentially impacting bobwhites.

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