Microscopic and molecular characterization of Hepatozoon domerguei (Apicomplexa) and Foleyella furcata (Nematoda) in wild endemic reptiles from Madagascar

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Abstract

Madagascar is one of the world's top twelve "megadiversity" hot spots hosting unique and threatened flora and fauna. Parasites are a major component of biodiversity but remain largely uncharacterized in wildlife. In this study we combine microscopic and molecular assessment of hemoparasites in endemic reptile species from Madagascar. We detected three distinct parasites: the apicomplexans Hepatozoon and Sarcocystis, and filarial nematodes. The prevalence and intensity of these apicomplexans were low overall, while microfilarial infections in chameleons were relatively high. We detected mixed infections of two Hepatozoon haplotypes in Madagascarophis colubrinus, and of Hepatozoon and microfilariae in a Furcifer sp. Phylogenetic analyses of Hepatozoon showed evidence of prey-predator transmission, with identical sequences found in the snakes M. colubrinus and Ithycyphus oursi, and their prey Furcifer sp. Based on previous studies regarding the life cycle of Hepatozoon domerguei Landau, Chabaud, Michel, and Brygoo, 1970 in these hosts and due to their morphological similarity, we propose that this Hepatozoon haplotype is Hepatozoon domerguei. Future studies, including the examination of invertebrate hosts, are needed to verify this preliminary taxonomic identification. A distinct hemogregarine haplotype was found in Oplurus sp., which displayed morphologically different gametocytes, some of which were apparently inside leukocytes. The Sarcocystis identified from Tracheloptychus petersi was identical to that reported in a North African snake, indicating that the same lineage is found in geographically distinct regions. By combining morphological and genetic information, Foleyella furcata (Linstow, 1899) filarial nematodes were identified in several Furcifer chameleons. This study provides insights into the distribution, diversity and host-parasite interactions of hemoparasites in wild reptile populations from Madagascar.

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Maia, J. P., Crottini, A., & Harris, D. J. (2014). Microscopic and molecular characterization of Hepatozoon domerguei (Apicomplexa) and Foleyella furcata (Nematoda) in wild endemic reptiles from Madagascar. Parasite, 21. https://doi.org/10.1051/parasite/2014046

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