Worms and bugs of the gut: the search for diagnostic signatures using barcoding, and metagenomics-metabolomics.
Gastrointestinal (GI) helminth infections cause significant morbidity in both humans and animals worldwide. Specific and sensitive diagnosis is central to the surveillance of such infections and to determine the effectiveness of treatment strategies used to control them. In this article, we: (i) assess the strengths and limitations of existing methods applied to the diagnosis of GI helminth infections of humans and livestock; (ii) examine high-throughput sequencing approaches, such as targeted molecular barcoding and shotgun sequencing, as tools to define the taxonomic composition of helminth infections; and (iii) discuss the current understanding of the interactions between helminths and microbiota in the host gut. Stool-based diagnostics are likely to serve as an important tool well into the future; improved diagnostics of helminths and their environment in the gut may assist the identification of biomarkers with the potential to define the health/disease status of individuals and populations, and to identify existing or emerging anthelmintic resistance.
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