Parastrongyloides trichosuri is a nematode parasite of the Australian brush-tailed possums that can be propagated through many generations in vitro. This makes P. trichosuri uniquely suited for genetic investigations, including those involving transgenesis. However, an obstacle to its use as an experimental model has been the fact that its host is limited to Australia and New Zealand and that it cannot be exported because of its status as a protected species or agricultural pest, respectively. In previous studies, conventional laboratory animals such as rats, mice, rabbits, ferrets, and chickens have failed to support infections. In the present study, gerbils and short-tailed opossums proved similarly refractory to infection. In contrast, the sugar glider (Petaurus breviceps, family Petauridae) proved to be a good host for P. trichosuri. Patent infections resulted using as few as 6 infective larvae (L3i) and as many as 2,000 L3i. Large numbers of L3i (1,000–2,000) produced patent infections of much shorter duration than those seen when 100 L3i were initially given to the sugar glider. In one case, an infection initiated with 100 L3i was patent for over 1 yr. Parastrongyloides trichosuri is easily cryopreserved using a method developed for Strongyloides stercoralis. Thus, we have identified an experimental host for P. trichosuri that will make it possible to conduct research on this parasite in laboratories outside the endemic sites.
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