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Trypanosomes in a declining species of threatened Australian marsupial, the brush-tailed bettong Bettongia penicillata (Marsupialia: Potoroidae)

Smith, A., Clark, P., Averis, S., Lymbery, A.J., Wayne, A.F., Morris, K.D. and Thompson, R.C.A. (2008) Trypanosomes in a declining species of threatened Australian marsupial, the brush-tailed bettong Bettongia penicillata (Marsupialia: Potoroidae). Parasitology, 135 (11). pp. 1329-1335.

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    Link to Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0031182008004824
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    Abstract

    The brush-tailed bettong (Bettongia penicillata), or woylie, is a medium-sized macropod marsupial that has undergone a rapid and substantial decline throughout its home range in the Upper Warren region of Western Australia over a period of approximately 5 years. As part of an investigation into possible causes of the decline a morphologically distinct Trypanosoma sp. was discovered by light microscopy in the declining population but was absent in a stable population within the Karakamia Wildlife Sanctuary. Further investigations employing molecular methods targeting variations in the 18s rRNA gene determined that the trypanosome was novel and was also present within the Karakamia population albeit at a much lower overall prevalence and individual parasitaemia levels. Phylogenetic analysis suggests the novel Trypanosoma sp. to be closely related to other trypanosomes isolated from native Australian wildlife species. Although it appears unlikely that the parasite is solely responsible for the decline in woylie population size, it may (singularly or in conjunction with other infectious agents) predispose woylies to increased mortality.

    Publication Type: Journal Article
    Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
    Publisher: Cambridge University Press
    Copyright: © 2008 Cambridge University Press
    URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/2109
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