Understanding Haemonchus contortus Better Through Genomics and Transcriptomics

Adv Parasitol. 2016;93:519-67. doi: 10.1016/bs.apar.2016.02.015. Epub 2016 Apr 5.


Parasitic roundworms (nematodes) cause substantial mortality and morbidity in animals globally. The barber's pole worm, Haemonchus contortus, is one of the most economically significant parasitic nematodes of small ruminants worldwide. Although this and related nematodes can be controlled relatively well using anthelmintics, resistance against most drugs in common use has become a major problem. Until recently, almost nothing was known about the molecular biology of H. contortus on a global scale. This chapter gives a brief background on H. contortus and haemonchosis, immune responses, vaccine research, chemotherapeutics and current problems associated with drug resistance. It also describes progress in transcriptomics before the availability of H. contortus genomes and the challenges associated with such work. It then reviews major progress on the two draft genomes and developmental transcriptomes of H. contortus, and summarizes their implications for the molecular biology of this worm in both the free-living and the parasitic stages of its life cycle. The chapter concludes by considering how genomics and transcriptomics can accelerate research on Haemonchus and related parasites, and can enable the development of new interventions against haemonchosis.

Keywords: Anthelmintic resistance; Bioinformatics; Drug targets; Genetic markers; Genomics; Haemonchus contortus; High-throughput sequencing; Order Strongylida; Parasitic nematodes; Post-genomics; Transcriptomics; Vaccines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anthelmintics / pharmacology
  • Caenorhabditis elegans / genetics
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Drug Resistance
  • Genomics*
  • Haemonchiasis / drug therapy
  • Haemonchiasis / parasitology
  • Haemonchiasis / veterinary*
  • Haemonchus / drug effects
  • Haemonchus / genetics*
  • Life Cycle Stages
  • Ruminants / parasitology
  • Transcriptome*


  • Anthelmintics