, Volume 102, Issue 6, pp 1185-1193
Date: 13 Feb 2008

Polymerase chain reaction-based identification of Plasmodium (Huffia) elongatum, with remarks on species identity of haemosporidian lineages deposited in GenBank

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Numerous lineages of avian malaria parasites of the genus Plasmodium have been deposited in GenBank. However, only 11 morphospecies of Plasmodium have been linked to these lineages. Such linking is important because it provides opportunities to combine the existing knowledge of traditional parasitology with novel genetic information of these parasites obtained by molecular techniques. This study linked one mitochondrial cytochrome b (cyt b) gene lineage with morphospecies Plasmodium (Huffia) elongatum, a cosmopolitan avian malaria parasite which causes lethal disease in some birds. One species of Plasmodium (mitochondrial cyt b gene lineage P-GRW6) was isolated from naturally infected adult great reed warblers (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) and inoculated to one naive juvenile individual of the same host species. Heavy parasitaemia developed in the subinoculated bird, which enabled identification of the morphospecies and deposition of its voucher specimens. The parasite of this lineage belongs to P. elongatum. Illustrations of blood stages of this parasite are given. Other lineages closely related to P. elongatum were identified. The validity of the subgenus Huffia is supported by phylogenetic analysis. Mitochondrial cyt b gene lineages, with GenBank accession nos. AF069611 and AY733088, belong to Plasmodium cathemerium and P. elongatum, respectively; these lineages have been formerly attributed to P. elongatum and P. relictum, respectively. Some other incorrect species identifications of avian haematozoa in GenBank have been identified. We propose a strategy to minimise the number of such mistakes in GenBank in the future.