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Leucocytozoon pterotenuis sp. nov. (Haemosporida, Leucocytozoidae): description of the morphologically unique species from the Grallariidae birds, with remarks on the distribution of Leucocytozoon parasites in the Neotropics

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Abstract

We describe morphologically unique Leucocytozoon pterotenuis sp. nov. (Haemosporida, Leucocytozoidae), the first reported leucocytozoid species developing in fusiform host cell found in a Neotropical passeriform bird. The type host of this parasite is the Chestnut-crowned Antpitta (Grallaria ruficapilla, Grallariidae), an elusive native passerine bird whose natural history remains, to a large degree, unexplored. This bird was captured in Palacio forest in the damping zone of Chingaza National Natural Park, Cundinamarca, Colombia, at 2900 m above sea level (asl). Gametocytes of the new species develop both in roundish and fusiform host cells. This parasite is readily morphologically distinguishable from the described Leucocytozoon species because its host cells possess the narrow (needle-like) spindle-shaped processes, which length markedly exceeds their width. Additionally, the host cell nucleus markedly extends into the processes. Phylogenetic relationships were constructed based on a fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and the complete mitochondrial genome. Phylogenetic analysis placed the lineage of L. pterotenuis in different positions depending on the length of the sequence analyzed that is likely due to poor sampling of Leucocytozoon species, especially from rare or non-passerine hosts, as well as a paucity of complete mitochondrial sequences of these parasites. Available data indicate that Leucocytozoon parasites are distributed mainly in mountain regions of the Neotropics where unique morphological forms have been recently discovered. To a better knowledge of the diversity of Leucocytozoon spp. and their host–vector–parasite interactions in Neotropical countries, additional deep and intensive samplings are needed, particularly in orders different to Passeriformes.

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Acknowledgments

Authors would like to thank Chingaza National Natural Park Administrative staff and Grupo de Estudio Relación Parásito Hospedero research group, especially Rocio Hernandez and Rafael Gutierrez, for their field assistance. This work was funded by Colciencias project code 110152128340 contract no. 359–2011 and the Botanical Garden José Celestino Mutis of Bogotá under program of incentives for research Thomas van der Hammen.

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Lotta, I.A., Gonzalez, A.D., Pacheco, M.A. et al. Leucocytozoon pterotenuis sp. nov. (Haemosporida, Leucocytozoidae): description of the morphologically unique species from the Grallariidae birds, with remarks on the distribution of Leucocytozoon parasites in the Neotropics. Parasitol Res 114, 1031–1044 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-014-4269-y

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