Identification of factors associated with Fasciola hepatica infection risk areas on pastures via an environmental DNA survey of Galba truncatula distribution using droplet digital and quantitative real-time PCR assays

Rhys Aled Jones*, Chelsea N. Davis, Justyna Nalepa‐Grajcar, Hayley Woodruff, Hefin Wyn Williams, Peter M. Brophy, Emma Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
126 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Environmental DNA (eDNA) is a powerful tool for identifying the spatial and temporal presence and density of species in a range of aquatic habitats. The analysis of eDNA has a wide range of application, one of which may be to inform of Fasciola hepatica infection risk on pastures based on the detection of its eDNA as well as that of its intermediate snail host, Galba truncatula eDNA. Here, droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) and quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) assays were developed to detect the eDNA of F. hepatica, and its intermediate snail host, G. truncatula in water samples collected from pastures grazed by cattle and/or sheep. Environmental factors associated with species presence, as detected via an eDNA survey, were identified using zero-inflated linear mixed models. Sixty-four habitats were sampled across six farms in Ceredigion, Wales, UK, with ddPCR and qPCR identifying 42 and 33 habitats to be positive for G. truncatula eDNA, respectively. G. truncatula eDNA was significantly less likely to be detected in habitats fully shaded by trees, those that contained black or dark brown soils and habitats that contained deep water pools (p < 0.05). Significantly higher G. truncatula eDNA concentrations were observed in habitats that tend to dry up during Summer (i.e., temporary habitats) (p < 0.05). ddPCR also identified five habitats to be positive for F. hepatica eDNA; however, questions remain regarding the utility of F. hepatica eDNA detection due to a lack of specificity toward infective F. hepatica larval stages. The results of this study inform of factors which influences G. truncatula distribution and ecology on pastures and also provided practical information for farmers to aid F. hepatica control in their flocks and herds.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere371
Number of pages12
JournalEnvironmental DNA
Volume6
Issue number1
Early online date19 Oct 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 06 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • ddPCR
  • environmental DNA
  • Fasciola hepatica
  • Galba truncatula
  • qPCR

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