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Novel genotypes of Trypanosoma binneyi from wild platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) and identification of a leech as a potential vector

Paparini, A., Macgregor, J., Irwin, P.J., Warren, K. and Ryan, U.M. (2014) Novel genotypes of Trypanosoma binneyi from wild platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus) and identification of a leech as a potential vector. Experimental Parasitology, 145 . pp. 42-50.

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Little is known about the prevalence and pathogenesis of trypanosomes in Australian monotremes, and few genetic characterisation studies have been conducted with these haemoparasites. During the present investigation, molecular and microscopic methods were used to screen peripheral blood (n= 28) and ectoparasites (n= 10 adult ticks; n= 5 tick nymphs; n= 1 leech; and n>. 500 tick eggs) collected from wild Tasmanian platypuses (Ornithorhynchus anatinus), for the presence of trypanosomatid-specific DNA and/or trypomastigotes. The genes for the small ribosomal subunit RNA (18S rDNA) and glycosomal glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase (gGAPDH) were amplified and sequenced, prior to conducting phylogenetic analyses.The detection rate of the parasite-specific 18S rDNA in platypus blood was 85.7% (n= 24/28), and the leech was also positive at both loci. Microscopically, high parasitaemia and the presence of abundant trypomastigotes, morphologically consistent with Trypanosoma binneyi Mackerras (1959), were observed in the blood films. Phylogenetic analyses at the 18S locus revealed the existence of four trypanosomatid-like genotypes, with variable similarity to two previously-described genotypes of T. binneyi (range of genetic p-distance: 0.0-0.5%). For the gGAPDH locus, for which only one T. binneyi sequence is available in GenBank, three genotypes closely related T. binneyi were identified (range of genetic p-distance: 0.1-0.4%). The leech-derived trypanosome isolate was virtually identical (at the two loci studied) to the other parasites sequenced from infected platypuses; however, the molecular or morphological identification of the leech species was not possible.Although further studies are required, the molecular detection of trypanosomes in an aquatic leech removed from a platypus, suggests the possibility that these haematophagous hirudineans may be a vector for T. binneyi (and closely related genotypes).

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Academic Press
Copyright: © 2014 Elsevier Inc.
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