METHODS: 152 H. contortus individual adult worms were collected from seven different geographical regions in China. The second internal transcribed spacer (ITS-2) of the nuclear ribosomal DNA and mitochondrial nicotinamide dehydrogenase subunit 4 gene (nad4) were amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequenced directly. The sequence variations and population genetic diversities were determined.
RESULTS: Nucleotide sequence analyses revealed 18 genotypes (ITS-2) and 142 haplotypes (nad4) among the 152 worms, with nucleotide diversities of 2.6% and 0.027, respectively, consistent with previous reports from other countries, including Australia, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, Sweden, the USA and Yemen. Population genetic analyses revealed that 92.4% of nucleotide variation was partitioned within populations; there was no genetic differentiation but a high gene flow among Chinese populations; some degree of genetic differentiation was inferred between some specimens from China and those from other countries.
CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study of genetic variation within H. contortus in China. The results revealed high within-population variations, low genetic differentiation and high gene flow among different populations of H. contortus in China. The present results could have implications for studying the epidemiology and ecology of H. contortus in China.