The genetic basis of resistance to Ostertagia circumcincta in lambs
The relationship between Ostertagia (Teladorsagia) circumcincta and sheep is one of the best understood host-parasite relationships in any species. The key components of resistance have been quantified, the extent of genetic control has been established for lambs, and methods now exist to breed lambs which will be both more resistant to worms and more productive than unselected lambs. A major gene for resistance has been identified within or around the major histocompatibility complex, and this gene appears to be the strongest yet identified for resistance to any parasite species. The most important mechanisms of resistance are local Igh responses which regulate worm fecundity and immediate hypersensitivity responses which regulate worm burdens. IgA responses develop before effective immediate hypersensitivity responses. Good simulation models now exist to predict, for example, outbreaks of disease and the response of sheep to selection. The challenge now is to use our improved understanding of the population biology to develop even better simulation models and to produce expert systems based on these models which can be used by veterinarians and others to determine optimal procedures for individual farms to control disease and reduce sub-clinical economic losses.