Journal of Ornithology

, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 549–564 | Cite as

First molecular study of prevalence and diversity of avian haemosporidia in a Central California songbird community

  • Erika L. Walther
  • Jenny S. Carlson
  • Anthony Cornel
  • Brett K. Morris
  • Ravinder N. M. Sehgal
Original Article

Abstract

We studied avian haemosporidian parasites of the genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon in a riparian songbird community in Central California, USA, over a period of 2 years. We sequenced a well-characterized region of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene to identify the prevalence and diversity of these parasites from 399 birds. Of the 39.8 % of birds infected with haemosporidian parasites, most (30.8 %) were infected with Plasmodium. We identified 35 lineages, including 13 from the Plasmodium genus, 12 from Haemoproteus, and 10 from Leucocytozoon, 14 of which were novel lineages. In addition, we provide the first report of haemosporidian infections in 13 host species. Plasmodium prevalence ranged widely among host species from 0.0 to 68.6 %. We identified 2 Plasmodium lineages that were generalists, infecting multiple species across several families. One Plasmodium species, P. homopolare, was found in 84 individual birds representing 9 host species from 5 families, but primarily from Emberizidae. This is the first avian haemosporidian study utilizing molecular methods in California, which increases our understanding of the diversity and prevalence of avian haemosporidia affecting Passeriformes in this region and beyond.

Keywords

Haemosporidia Plasmodium homopolare Cytochrome b California Passeriformes 

Zusammenfassung

Erste molekulare Studie zu Prävalenz und Diversität von Vogel-Hämosporidien einer Singvogelgemeinschaft in Zentral-Kalifornien

Wir untersuchten zwei Jahre lang Vogel-Hämosporidien der Gattungen Plasmodium, Haemoproteus und Leucocytozoon in einer Auwaldsingvogelgemeinschaft in Zentral-Kalifornien, USA. Mittels Sequenzierung einer gut charakterisierten Region des mitochondrialen Cytochrom-b-Gene haben wir die Prävalenz und Diversität dieser Malariaparasiten von 399 Vögeln ermittelt. Von den 39,8 % mit Hämosporidien infizierten Vögeln waren die meisten (30,8 %) mit Plasmodium befallen. Wir identifizierten 35 Linien, wovon 13 der Gattung Plasmodium angehörten, 12 der Gattung Haemoproteus und 10 der Gattung Leucocytozoon. 14 Linien waren bisher unbekannt. Erstmalig wurden 13 Arten auf ihren Hämosporidienbefall geprüft. Die Prävalenz mit Plasmodium betrug zwischen 0 und 68,6 %. Zwei der Plasmodium Linien waren Generalisten, die mehrere Vögel-Arten bzw. Familien infizierten. Einer dieser Generalisten, P. homopolare, wurde in 84 Individuen von neun Arten aus fünf Familien nachgewiesen, vornehmlich aber Emberizidae. Diese Studie ist die erste, die molekulare Methoden zum Nachweis von Hämosporidien in Vögeln in Kalifornien verwendete. Diese Ergebnisse erweitern unsere Kenntnis zu Diversität und Prävalenz von Vogel-Hämosporidiena bei Passeriformes in der Region und darüber hinaus.

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Copyright information

© Dt. Ornithologen-Gesellschaft e.V. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erika L. Walther
    • 1
  • Jenny S. Carlson
    • 2
  • Anthony Cornel
    • 2
  • Brett K. Morris
    • 1
  • Ravinder N. M. Sehgal
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologySan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA
  2. 2.Mosquito Research Control Laboratory, Department of Entomology and NematologyUniversity of CaliforniaParlierUSA

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