Whole-genome sequencing of Schistosoma mansoni reveals extensive diversity with limited selection despite mass drug administration


Control and elimination of the parasitic disease schistosomiasis relies on mass administration of praziquantel. Whilst these programmes reduce infection prevalence and intensity, their impact on parasite transmission and evolution is poorly understood. Here we examine the genomic impact of repeated mass drug administration on Schistosoma mansoni populations with documented reduced praziquantel efficacy. We sequenced whole-genomes of 198 S. mansoni larvae from 34 Ugandan children from regions with contrasting praziquantel exposure. Parasites infecting children from Lake Victoria, a transmission hotspot, form a diverse panmictic population. A single round of treatment did not reduce this diversity with no apparent population contraction caused by long-term praziquantel use. We find evidence of positive selection acting on members of gene families previously implicated in praziquantel action, but detect no high frequency functionally impactful variants. As efforts to eliminate schistosomiasis intensify, our study provides a foundation for genomic surveillance of this major human parasite

In Nature Communications 12:4776
James Cotton
James Cotton
Senior Staff Scientist

My research interests are in the genomics, and particularly population genomics of parasites, particularly those that cause neglected tropical diseases