Understanding the genetic variation within a parasitic species is crucial to implementing successful control programs and preventing the dispersal of drug resistance alleles. We examined the population genetics and structure of canine heartworm (Dirofilaria immitis) by developing a panel of 11 polymorphic microsatellite loci for this abundant parasite. In total, 192 individual nematodes were opportunistically sampled from 9 geographic regions in the United States and Mexico and genotyped. Population genetic analyses indicate the presence of 4 genetic clusters. The canine heartworm samples used in this study were characterized by low heterozygosity, with eastern and central North America experiencing high levels of reciprocal gene flow. Geographic barriers impede the movement of vectors and infected hosts west of the Rocky Mountains and south of the Central Mexican Plateau. This, combined with corridors of contiguous habitat, could influence the spread of drug resistance alleles.

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