The Link Between Horse Parasites and Gut Microbiota

Findings from a recent study could afford a better understanding of how parasites choose their hosts within a herd and lead to the identification of biomarkers that could help pinpoint which horses are more likely to be wormy, researchers said.
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Horse Parasites and Gut Microbiota
These findings could afford a better understanding of how parasites choose their hosts within a herd and lead to the discovery of certain biomarkers that would help scientists detect which equids are more likely to be wormy. | Photo: iStock

Some horses are prone to intestinal parasites; others, less so. But why? French researchers believe it might have something to do with the microbiota—the community of microorganisms—living in horses’ guts.

The numbers of certain bacteria and protozoa in the digestive tracts of ponies that are susceptible to parasite infection differ slightly compared to microbiota from ponies that resist parasite infection, said to Guillaume Sallé, DVM, PhD, of the French National Agricultural Institute (INRA), in Nouzilly.

Those findings could lead to a better understanding of how parasites “choose” their hosts within a herd, Sallé said. And equally importantly, it could lead to the discovery of certain biomarkers that would help scientists detect which equids are more likely to be “wormy

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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