As well as being important human pathogens, parasitic worms infect all species of farm animal (cattle, sheep, goats and pigs) and need to be treated for the health and welfare of the animal. Many of these parasites are nematodes (or roundworms) and these are controlled using drugs called anthelmintics. Unfortunately many worm species are now resistant to these drugs, analogous to antibiotic resistance in bacteria, making control much more difficult. How anthelmintic resistance arises and spreads within the worms on a farm remains unclear.
BUG stands for Building Upon the Genome: the BUG Consortium aims to use the recently published genome of the sheep parasite Haemonchus contortus to identify the genetic changes that allow worms to survive drug treatment. We will do this through a combination of a genetic cross and population genomics of worms in UK sheep flocks.
The consortium is funded by a Strategic Longer and Larger Grant (sLoLa) from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).