The recent identification of isolates of D. immitis with confirmed resistance to the macrocyclic lactone preventatives presents an opportunity for comparative genomic studies using these isolates, and examining the genetic diversity within and between them. We studied the genomes of Wolbachia endosymbionts of five isolates of D. immitis maintained at the University of Georgia. Missouri and Georgia-2 are maintained as drug susceptible isolates, and JYD-27, Yazoo-2013 and Metairie-2014 are resistant to the macrocyclic lactone preventatives. We used whole genome amplification followed by Illumina-based sequencing from 8 to 12 individual microfilariae from each of the five isolates, obtaining a depth of coverage of approximately 40–75 fold for each. The Illumina sequences were used to create new genome assemblies for all the Wolbachia isolates studied. Comparisons of the Wolbachia sequences revealed more than 3000 sequence variations in each isolate. We identified 67 loci specific in resistant isolates but not in susceptible isolates, including 18 genes affected. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that the endosymbionts of the drug-susceptible isolates are more closely related to each other than to those from any of the resistant parasites. This level of variation in the Wolbachia endosymbionts of D. immitis isolates suggests a potential for selection for resistance against drugs targeting them.
Pei-Tsz Shin, Rodrigo de Paula Baptista, Connor M. O’Neill, Connor Wallis, Barbara J.Reaves, Adrian J. Wolstenholme. Veterinary Parasitology, Volume 286, October 2020, 109225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetpar.2020.109225