Parasitology Research

, Volume 117, Issue 7, pp 2187–2199 | Cite as

Detecting local transmission of avian malaria and related haemosporidian parasites (Apicomlexa, Haemosporida) at a Special Protection Area of Natura 2000 network

  • Dimitar Dimitrov
  • Mihaela Ilieva
  • Karina Ivanova
  • Vojtěch Brlík
  • Pavel Zehtindjiev
Original Paper


Avian haemosporidian parasites (Apicomplexa, Haemosporida) are widespread pathogens that cause malaria (Plasmodium spp.) and other haemosporidioses (Haemoproteus spp. and Leucocytozoon spp.) in birds. The Special Protection Area Durankulak Lake (SPA DL) is a coastal lake in northeast Bulgaria, part of the Natura 2000 network that was declared as important area for wintering, breeding and migratory birds. Despite a number of conservation efforts outlined for the SPAs of Natura 2000 network, the potential threats and influences of haemosporidians and other parasites on occurring birds were not considered. In the present study, we aim to investigate the richness of haemosporidian parasites in birds captured in the protected area and to report the parasite species/DNA lineages that undergo local transmission in the region. We used both microscopic examination and PCR-based methods to diagnose haemosporidian infections in juvenile (captured in the year of hatching) and adult birds. The overall prevalence of haemosporidian parasites was significantly higher in the adult birds compared to juveniles. We identified five out of 21 recorded cytochrome b (cyt b) parasite lineages that are locally transmitted in the SPA DL (one of the genus Haemoproteus Kruse, 1890 and four of genus Plasmodium Marchiafava and Celli, 1885): cyt b lineages hRW2 of Haemoproteus belopolskyi, pSGS1 of Plasmodium relictum, pCOLL1, pYWT4 and pPADOM01 of Plasmodium (Haemamoeba) spp. It is likely that the majority of the parasites with local transmission are widespread host generalists and that host exchange is rather frequent among the birds inhabiting SPA DL.


Haemoproteus Plasmodium Durankulak Lake New host records Host exchange 



We are thankful to Strahil Peev, Martin P. Marinov, Boris Prudík, Christoffer Sjöholm and Martin Sládeček for their help with the fieldwork. Anelyia Bobeva is acknowledged for her help in the laboratory work. We are grateful to both anonymous reviewers for valuable comments and suggestions on the earlier manuscript. We thank to Dr. Nicholas Clark for proofreading the manuscript and correcting the English. The study was financially supported by the Program for career development of young scientists of Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. VB was supported by the Czech Science Foundation (project No. 13-06451S). PZ, MI and KI were supported by the Bulgarian National Science Foundation grant No. DN01/6.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Research at the Bulgarian Academy of SciencesSofiaBulgaria
  2. 2.Institute of Vertebrate BiologyAcademy of Sciences of the Czech RepublicBrnoCzech Republic

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