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    Title: Haemosporidian parasites in the Ash-breasted Sierra Finch (Geospizopsis plebejus): Insights from an Andean dry forest population
    Authors: Chavarría, Xavier
    Matta, Nubia
    Cadena-Ortíz, Héctor
    Alarcón, Ibeth
    Bahamonde-Vinueza, Daniela
    González, Angie
    Bonaccorso, Elisa
    Issue Date: 2023
    Publisher: Parasitology
    Abstract: Haemosporidian genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus, and Leucocytozoon, responsible for avian malaria infections, are highly diverse and have a wide range of health effects and predictors, depending on the host and its environmental context. Here, we present, for the first time, detailed information on the identity, prevalence, and parasitemia of haemosporidians and other haemoparasites that infect the Ash-breasted Sierra Finch, Geospizopsis plebejus, in an Andean dry forest. We study the consequences of infection in the host body and health conditions and explore the environmental and intrinsic factors that influence infection status and parasitemia. We conducted diagnoses by cytochrome b (cytb) sequencing and morphological identification, and estimated levels of parasitemia based on microscopy. We identified six cytb lineages infecting the Geospizopsis plebejus. Two of them were new lineages: Haemoproteus sp. GEPLE01 and GEPLE02. We also detected Haemoproteus sp. ZOCAP08, Haemoproteus sp. AMAVIR01, Plasmodium homopolare BAEBIC02, and P. cathemerium ZONCAP15. By microscopy, we detected H. coatneyi, H. erythrogravidus, P. homopolare, and other unidentified species of Haemoproteus, Plasmodium, Babesia sp., and one microfilaria. We found no evidence of Leucocytozoon. Additionally, we detected several coinfections by sequencing and microscopy. The prevalence of haemosporidian infections was high (87.7%), and the mean parasitemia was 61.65 infected cells per 10,000 erythrocytes examined. Prevalence and parasitemia were higher for Haemoproteus than for Plasmodium. Haemoproteus sp. AMAVIR01 showed the highest prevalence (43.1%) and mean parasitemia (94.39/10,000 erythrocytes) and might be associated with H. coatneyi. Immature individuals showed a lower prevalence than adults, supporting previous findings.
    URI: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36345570/
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