Occurrence and diversity of avian haemosporidia in intra-African migratory landbirds.

Mamohale E. Chaisi, Samuel T. Osinubi, Desire Lee Dalton, Essa Suleman

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Avian haemosporidian infections are widespread and can result in the decline of wild bird populations or in
some cases contribute to extinction of species. We determined the prevalence and genetic diversity of avian
haemosporidia in 93 samples from 22 landbird species from South Africa (N = 76) and West Africa (N = 17), of
which six are intra-African migrants and one is a Palearctic migrant. The samples were analysed for the presence
of avian haemosporidian DNA using real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) and nested PCR assays targeting specific
mitochondrial genes of these parasites. The cytochrome b (cytb) gene was sequenced for all samples that tested
positive and phylogenetic analysis was conducted in order to determine the relationship of the new sequences
with previously published sequences from the MalAvi database. The overall prevalence of avian haemosporidiosis was 68.82% (95% CI: 56.4%–78.87%) and 82.80% (95% CI: 65.68%–86.11%) as determined by qPCR
and nested PCR respectively. Eighteen (19.36%; 95% CI; 10.78%–29.97%) samples had mixed infections.
Infection prevalence of all haemosporidian spp. were significantly higher (p < 0.05) in samples from West
Africa. Forty-six mitochondrial sequences obtained from 14 avian species grouped into three distinct clusters of
Haemoproteus (36), Leucocytozoon (8) and Plasmodium (2). These represent eight published and nine new cytb
lineages. The most common lineage was Haemoproteus sp. (VIMWE1) which was identified in two bird species
from West Africa and seven bird species from South Africa. This study adds to our knowledge of host-parasite
relationships of avian haemosporidia of Afrotropical birds.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-44
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife
Early online date8 Dec 2018
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018


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