Reassignment of the land tortoise haemogregarine Haemogregarina fitzsimonsi Dias 1953 (Adeleorina: Haemogregarinidae) to the genus Hepatozoon Miller 1908 (Adeleorina: Hepatozoidae) based on parasite morphology, life cycle and phylogenetic analysis of 18S rDNA sequence fragments

Courtney A Cook, Scott P Lawton, Angela J Davies, Nico J Smit

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14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

SUMMARY Research was undertaken to clarify the true taxonomic position of the terrestrial tortoise apicomplexan, Haemogregarina fitzsimonsi (Dias, 1953). Thin blood films were screened from 275 wild and captive South African tortoises of 6 genera and 10 species between 2009-2011. Apicomplexan parasites within films were identified, with a focus on H. fitzsimonsi. Ticks from wild tortoises, especially Amblyomma sylvaticum and Amblyomma marmoreum were also screened, and sporogonic stages were identified on dissection of adult ticks of both species taken from H. fitzsimonsi infected and apparently non-infected tortoises. Parasite DNA was extracted from fixed, Giemsa-stained tortoise blood films and from both fresh and fixed ticks, and PCR was undertaken with two primer sets, HEMO1/HEMO2, and HepF300/HepR900, to amplify parasite 18S rDNA. Results indicated that apicomplexan DNA extracted from tortoise blood films and both species of tick had been amplified by one or both primer sets. Haemogregarina fitzsimonsi 18S rDNA sequences from tortoise blood aligned with those of species of Hepatozoon, rather than those of species of Haemogregarina or Hemolivia. It is recommended therefore that this haemogregarine be re-assigned to the genus Hepatozoon, making Hepatozoon fitzsimonsi (Dias, 1953) the only Hepatozoon known currently from any terrestrial chelonian. Ticks are its likely vectors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1611-1620
Number of pages10
JournalParasitology
Volume141
Issue number12
Early online date13 Jun 2014
DOIs
Publication statusPrint publication - Oct 2014
Externally publishedYes

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