Haemocystidium spp., a species complex infecting ancient aquatic turtles of the family Podocnemididae: First report of these parasites in Podocnemis vogli from the Orinoquia

(:Unkn) Unknown, University, My
© 2019 The Authors The genus Haemocystidium was described in 1904 by Castellani and Willey. However, several studies considered it a synonym of the genera Plasmodium or Haemoproteus. Recently, molecular evidence has shown the existence of a monophyletic group that corresponds to the genus Haemocystidium. Here, we further explore the clade Haemocystidium spp. by studying parasites from Testudines. A total of 193 individuals belonging to six families of Testudines were analyzed. The samples were
more » ... . The samples were collected in five localities in Colombia: Casanare, Vichada, Arauca, Antioquia, and Córdoba. From each individual, a blood sample was taken for molecular analysis, and peripheral blood smears were made, which were fixed and subsequently stained with Giemsa. The prevalence of Haemocystidium spp. was 1.55% (n = 3/193); all infected individuals belonged to Podocnemis vogli (Savanna Side-necked turtle) from the department of Vichada. This is the first report of Haemocystidium spp. in Colombia and in this turtle species. The phylogenetic analysis of a mitochondrial cytb fragment revealed Haemocystidium spp. as a monophyletic group and as a sister taxon of Haemoproteus catharti and the genus Plasmodium. Haemocystidium spp. are difficult to identify by morphology only. As a result, it is possible that some of the taxa, such as Haemocystidium (Simondia) pacayae, represent a species complex. The parasite found in our study is morphologically indistinguishable from Haemocystidium (Simondia) pacayae reported in Peru. However, the new lineage found in P. vogli shows a genetic distance of 0.02 with Hae. pacayae and 0.04 with Hae. peltocephali. It is proposed that this divergent lineage might be a new species. Nevertheless, additional molecular markers and ecological features could support this hypothesis in the future.
doi:10.34944/dspace/4500 fatcat:lwchfxqbr5h4dpxo4u3xjd4bii