ACTA TROPICA, vol.172, pp.201-207, 2017 (SCI-Expanded)
Human cystic echinococcosis (CE) caused by Echinococcus granulosus s.s. is a major public health problem in Iraqi Kurdistan with a reported surgical incidence of 6.3 per 100,000 Arbil inhabitants. A total of 125 Echinococcus isolates retrieved from sheep, goats and cattle were used in this study. Our aim was to determine species/ genotypes infecting livestock in Iraqi Kurdistan and examine intraspecific variation and population structure of Echinococcus granulosus s.s. in this region and relate it to that of other regions worldwide. Using nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox 1) we identified E. granulosus s.s. as the cause of hydatidosis in all examined animals. The haplotype network displayed a double-clustered topology with two main E. granulosus s.s. haplotypes, (KU05) and (KU33). The 'founder' haplotype (KU05) confirmed the presence of a common lineage of non-genetically differentiated populations as inferred by the low nonsignificant fixation index values. Overall diversity and neutrality indices indicated demographic expansion. We used E. granulosus s.s. nucleotide sequences from GenBank to draw haplotype networks for the Middle East (Iran, Jordan and Turkey), Europe (Albania, Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain), China, Mongolia, Russia, South America (Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico) and Tunisia. Networks with two haplotype clusters like that reported here for Iraqi Kurdistan were seen for the Middle East, Europe, Mongolia, Russia and Tunisia using both 827 bp and 1609 bp cox1 nucleotide sequences, whereas a star-like network was observed for China and South America. We hypothesize that the double clustering seen at what is generally assumed to be the cradle of domestication may have emerged independently and dispersed from the Middle East to other regions and that haplotype (KU33) may be the main haplotype within a second cluster in the Middle East from where it has spread into Europe, Mongolia, Russia and North Africa. Further studies using metacestodes of human origin are required to investigate the biological importance of E. granulosus s.s. haplotypes/clusters and their association, if any with clinical manifestations of CE infection.