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The transmission dynamics of Schistosoma japonicum remain poorly understood, as over forty species of mammals are suspected of serving as reservoir hosts. However, knowledge of the population genetic structure and of the full-sibship structuring of parasites at two larval stages will be useful in defining and tracking the transmission pattern between intermediate and definitive hosts. S. japonicum larvae were therefore collected in three marshland and three hilly villages in Anhui Province of China across three time points: April and September-October 2006, and April 2007, and then genotyped with six microsatellite markers. Results from the population genetic and sibling relationship analyses of the parasites across two larval stages demonstrated that, within the marshland, parasites from cattle showed higher genetic diversity than from other species; whereas within the hilly region, parasites from dogs and humans displayed higher genetic diversity than those from rodents. Both the extent of gene flow and the estimated proportion of full-sib relationships of parasites between two larval stages indicated that the cercariae identified within intermediate hosts in the marshlands mostly came from cattle, whereas in the hilly areas, they were varied between villages, coming primarily from rodents, dogs or humans. Such results suggest a different transmission process within the hilly region from within the marshlands. Moreover, this is the first time that the sibling relationship analysis was applied to the transmission dynamics for S. japonicum.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS neglected tropical diseases

Publication Date





Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College, London, UK.


Animals, Cattle, Dogs, Humans, Rodentia, Schistosoma japonicum, Schistosomiasis japonica, Microsatellite Repeats, Genotype, Geography, China, Molecular Epidemiology