Temporal stability of insular avian malarial parasite communities.
ABSTRACT: Avian malaria is caused by a diverse community of genetically differentiated parasites of the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus. Rapid seasonal and annual antigenic allele turnover resulting from selection by host immune systems, as observed in some parasite populations infecting humans, may extend analogously to dynamic species compositions within communities of avian malarial parasites. To address this issue, we examined the stability of avian malarial parasite lineages across multiple time-scales within two insular host communities. Parasite communities in Puerto Rico and St Lucia included 20 and 14 genetically distinct parasite lineages, respectively. Lineage composition of the parasite community in Puerto Rico did not vary seasonally or over a 1 year interval. However, over intervals approaching a decade, the avian communities of both islands experienced an apparent loss or gain of one malarial parasite lineage, indicating the potential for relatively frequent lineage turnover. Patterns of temporal variation of parasite lineages in this study suggest periodic colonization and extinction events driven by a combination of host-specific immune responses, competition between lineages and drift. However, the occasional and ecologically dynamic lineage turnover exhibited by insular avian parasite communities is not as rapid as antigenic allele turnover within populations of human malaria.
Project description:Southeast Brazil is a neotropical region composed of a mosaic of different tropical habitats and mountain chains, which allowed for the formation of bird-rich communities with distinct ecological niches. Although this region has the potential to harbor a remarkable variety of avian parasites, there is a lack of information about the diversity of malarial parasites. We used molecular approaches to characterize the lineage diversity of Plasmodium and Haemoproteus in bird communities from three different habitats in southeast Brazil based on the prevalence, richness and composition of lineages. We observed an overall prevalence of 35.3%, with a local prevalence ranging from 17.2% to 54.8%. Moreover, no significant association between prevalence and habitat type could be verified (p>0.05). We identified 89 Plasmodium and 22 Haemoproteus lineages, with 86% of them described for the first time here, including an unusual infection of a non-columbiform host by a Haemoproteus (Haemoproteus) parasite. The composition analyses of the parasite communities showed that the lineage composition from Brazilian savannah and tropical dry forest was similar, but it was different from the lineage composition of Atlantic rainforest, reflecting the greater likeness of the former habitats with respect to seasonality and forest density. No significant effects of habitat type on lineage richness were observed based on GLM analyses. We also found that sites whose samples had a greater diversity of bird species showed a greater diversity of parasite lineages, providing evidence that areas with high bird richness also have high parasite richness. Our findings point to the importance of the neotropical region (southeast Brazil) as a major reservoir of new haemosporidian lineages.
Project description:We describe sequences of six strains of dengue virus (DENV): three DENV-1 isolates and two DENV-4 isolates from Puerto Rico, and a DENV-1 strain from Key West, Florida, obtained from blood donors during 2010 epidemics. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the Puerto Rico DENV-1 strains constitute a new lineage within genotype V different from those that circulated in Puerto Rico during the past two decades. The newer Puerto Rico DENV-1 strains associated with strains from the Caribbean and South America. The DENV-1 strain from Key West, Florida clustered with a strain isolated from mosquito pools collected in that area and with a number of strains from Nicaragua and Mexico circulating during 2006-2009. The Puerto Rico DENV-4 isolates of genotype II associated with strains that have circulated on the island throughout the 1980s and 1990s and with strains from the Caribbean region and Central America. Introduction and circulation of novel DENV lineages in dengue-endemic regions have the potential to increase the severity of dengue cases.
Project description:Host shifts are widespread among avian haemosporidians, although the success of transmission depends upon parasite-host and parasite-vector compatibility. Insular avifaunas are typically characterized by a low prevalence and diversity of haemosporidians, although the underlying ecological and evolutionary processes remain unclear. We investigated the parasite transmission network in an insular system formed by Eleonora's falcons (the avian host), louse flies that parasitize the falcons (the potential vector), and haemosporidians (the parasites). We found a great diversity of parasites in louse flies (16 Haemoproteus and 6 Plasmodium lineages) that did not match with lineages previously found infecting adult falcons (only one shared lineage). Because Eleonora's falcon feeds on migratory passerines hunted over the ocean, we sampled falcon kills in search of the origin of parasites found in louse flies. Surprisingly, louse flies shared 10 of the 18 different parasite lineages infecting falcon kills. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that all lineages found in louse flies (including five new lineages) corresponded to Haemoproteus and Plasmodium parasites infecting Passeriformes. We found molecular evidence of louse flies feeding on passerines hunted by falcons. The lack of infection in nestlings and the mismatch between the lineages isolated in adult falcons and louse flies suggest that despite louse flies' contact with a diverse array of parasites, no successful transmission to Eleonora's falcon occurs. This could be due to the falcons' resistance to infection, the inability of parasites to develop in these phylogenetically distant species, or the inability of haemosporidian lineages to complete their development in louse flies.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Captive populations of penguins outside of their natural distributions are often maintained in outdoor facilities, such as zoos and aquariums. Consequently, such penguins in captivity are constantly exposed to mosquito vectors and risk of avian malarial infection during their active period from spring to autumn, which can be lethal to these naïve birds. Previous studies have investigated parasite prevalence in mosquitoes or penguins, but simultaneous investigations, which would be crucial to monitor the transmission dynamics and cycle within a facility, have not been done. To identify dominant lineages and trends, multiple-year surveys are recommended.<h4>Methods</h4>Avian malaria parasites (Plasmodium spp.) and related haemosporidia were tested in penguins and mosquitoes at an aquarium in Japan through multiple years from 2011 to 2018. Prevalence and dynamics were confirmed, and molecular analyses targeting the protozoal cytb gene were used to reveal the transmission cycle. Blood meals of mosquitoes were also identified using molecular methods.<h4>Results</h4>Parasite detection in penguins tended to fluctuate within an individual. Two Plasmodium lineages were consistently detected in mosquitoes that had fed on penguins and wild birds observed around the aquarium. Plasmodium lineage CXPIP09 was detected from both mosquitoes and penguins, suggesting active transmission at this facility. However, Plasmodium cathemerium PADOM02 was only detected in mosquitoes, which may be due to host, vector or parasite-related factors, or detection methods and their limits. Additionally, Haemoproteus larae SPMAG12 was detected from penguins, suggesting active transmission via biting midges.<h4>Conclusions</h4>The mismatch in parasite composition between penguins and mosquitoes shows that multiple aspects such as captive birds, wild birds and vector insects should be monitored in order to better understand and control avian malarial infection within ex-situ conservation facilities. Furthermore, morphological analyses would be needed to confirm competency and infection dynamics of avian malaria parasites.
Project description:The latitudinal diversity gradient (LDG) is an established macroecological pattern, but is poorly studied in microbial organisms, particularly parasites. In this study, we tested whether latitude, elevation, and host species predicted patterns of prevalence, alpha diversity, and community turnover of hemosporidian parasites. We expected parasite diversity to decrease with latitude, alongside the diversity of their hosts and vectors. Similarly, we expected infection prevalence to decrease with latitude as vector abundances decrease. Lastly, we expected parasite community turnover to increase with latitudinal distance and to be higher between rather than within host species. We tested these hypotheses by screening blood and tissue samples of three closely related avian species in a clade of North American songbirds (Turdidae: Catharus, n = 466) across 17.5° of latitude. We used a nested PCR approach to identify parasites in hemosporidian genera that are transmitted by different dipteran vectors. Then, we implemented linear-mixed effects and generalized dissimilarity models to evaluate the effects of latitude, elevation, and host species on parasite metrics. We found high diversity of hemosporidian parasites in Catharus thrushes (n = 44 lineages) but no evidence of latitudinal gradients in alpha diversity or prevalence. Parasites in the genus Leucocytozoon were most prevalent and lineage rich in this study system; however, there was limited turnover with latitude and host species. Contrastingly, Plasmodium parasites were less prevalent and diverse than Leucocytozoon parasites, yet communities turned over at a higher rate with latitude and host species. Leucocytozoon communities were skewed by the dominance of one or two highly prevalent lineages with broad latitudinal distributions. The few studies that evaluate the hemosporidian LDG do not find consistent patterns of prevalence and diversity, which makes it challenging to predict how they will respond to global climate change.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Many studies have tracked the distribution and persistence of avian haemosporidian communities across space and time at the population level, but few studies have investigated these aspects of infection at the individual level over time. Important aspects of parasite infection at the individual level can be missed if only trends at the population level are studied. This study aimed to determine how persistent Haemosporida are in great tit individuals recaptured over several years, whether parasitaemia differed by parasite lineage (mitochondrial cytochrome b haplotype) and how co-infection (i.e. concurrent infection with multiple genera of parasites) affects parasitaemia and body mass. METHODS: Parasite prevalence was determined by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), quantitative PCR were used to assess parasitaemia and sequencing was employed to determine the identity of the lineages using the MalAvi database. RESULTS: Haemosporidian prevalence was high over sampled years with 98% of 55 recaptured individuals showing infection in at least one year of capture. Eighty-two percent of all positive individuals suffered co-infection, with an overall haemosporidian lineage diversity of seventeen. Plasmodium and Haemoproteus parasites were found to be highly persistent, with lineages from these genera consistently found in individuals across years and with no differences in individual parasitaemia being recorded at subsequent captures. Conversely, Leucocytozoon parasites showed higher turnover with regard to lineage changes or transitions in infection status (infected vs non-infected) across years. Parasitaemia was found to be lineage specific and there was no relationship between Plasmodium parasitaemia or host body condition and the presence of Leucocytozoon parasites. CONCLUSIONS: The findings of this study suggest that different genera of haemosporidian parasites interact differently with their host and other co-infecting parasites, influencing parasite persistence most likely through inter-parasite competition or host-parasite immune interactions. Even-though co-infections do not seem to result in increased virulence (higher parasitaemia or poorer host body condition), further investigation into infection potential of these parasites, both individually and as co-infections, is necessary.
Project description:The effects of late Quaternary climate on distributions and evolutionary dynamics of insular species are poorly understood in most tropical archipelagoes. We used ecological niche models under past and current climate to derive hypotheses regarding how stable climatic conditions shaped genetic diversity in two ecologically distinctive frogs in Puerto Rico. Whereas the Mountain Coquí, Eleutherodactylus portoricensis, is restricted to montane forest in the Cayey and Luquillo Mountains, the Red-eyed Coquí, E. antillensis, is a habitat generalist distributed across the entire Puerto Rican Bank (Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, excluding St. Croix). To test our hypotheses, we conducted phylogeographic and population genetic analyses based on mitochondrial and nuclear loci of each species across their range in Puerto Rico. Patterns of population differentiation in E. portoricensis, but not in E. antillensis, supported our hypotheses. For E. portoricensis, these patterns include: individuals isolated by long-term unsuitable climate in the Río Grande de Loíza Basin in eastern Puerto Rico belong to different genetic clusters; past and current climate strongly predicted genetic differentiation; and Cayey and Luquillo Mountains populations split prior to the last interglacial. For E. antillensis, these patterns include: genetic clusters did not fully correspond to predicted long-term unsuitable climate; and past and current climate weakly predicted patterns of genetic differentiation. Genetic signatures in E. antillensis are consistent with a recent range expansion into western Puerto Rico, possibly resulting from climate change and anthropogenic influences. As predicted, regions with a large area of long-term suitable climate were associated with higher genetic diversity in both species, suggesting larger and more stable populations. Finally, we discussed the implications of our findings for developing evidence-based management decisions for E. portoricensis, a taxon of special concern. Our findings illustrate the role of persistent suitable climatic conditions in promoting the persistence and diversification of tropical island organisms.
Project description:Dengue has emerged globally as a major human health problem since the 1950s and is now the most important arboviral disease of humans, infecting nearly 400 million people annually. While some cases are asymptomatic, others can develop a febrile illness (dengue fever) or even progress to severe and fatal dengue. Dengue is caused by any of 4 closely related but distinct viruses, known as Dengue virus serotype 1 to 4 (DENV-1 to DENV-4) which are maintained in endemic transmission to humans in large urban centers of the tropics by Aedes mosquitoes. Since the early 1960s, Puerto Rico, a major metropolitan center in the Caribbean, has experienced increasingly larger and clinically more severe epidemics following the introduction of all four dengue serotypes. The first dengue hemorrhagic fever epidemic in 1986, and a particularly severe outbreak in 1998 were dominated by novel DENV-4 strains that evolved in Puerto Rico, replacing earlier strains and spreading throughout the region. Sequence characterization of 54 complete DENV-4 genomes and their comparative evolution against 74 previously published viral sequences from the region over several decades shows that DENV-4 strains from these periods were genetically distinct based on unique changes in the envelope and non-structural genes. Their replacement of earlier strains in Puerto Rico progressed rapidly, suggesting that strong natural selection played a role in their fixation. This study confirms that DENVs evolve through rapid lineage turnover driven in part by natural selection and genetic drift.
Project description:The island of Puerto Rico supports a diverse assemblage of breeding birds, including 16 endemic species (Raffaele et al. 1998), and provides critical wintering habitat for many North American migratory birds (Wunderle and Waide 1994). Despite being a hotspot of avian biodiversity, spatially extensive data on the distribution and abundance of birds on the island are scarce. Breeding-bird assemblages were sampled by the North American Breeding Bird Survey from 1997-2007 (Sauer et al. 2013), but comparable primary data are not available for bird assemblages present during the boreal winter.We provide data from one of the few spatially extensive surveys of forest birds on Puerto Rico. We sampled 211 locations in forests across the island during January-March 2015 using repeated point-count surveys. These data are suitable for use in estimating abundance, occupancy, and distribution of forest birds on Puerto Rico during the winter.
Project description:Background:Avian Haemosporida are vector-borne parasites that commonly infect Passeriformes. Molecular analyses revealed a high number of different lineages and lineage specific traits like prevalence and host-specificity, but knowledge of parasite prevalence and lineage diversity in wild birds in Central Germany is still lacking. Results:Blood samples from a total of 238 adult and 122 nestling songbirds belonging to six species were investigated for infections with avian haemosporidian genera and lineages (Haemoproteus spp., Plasmodium spp., Leucocytozoon spp.) and Trypanosoma avium using PCR, targeting the parasite mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and 18S ribosomal RNA. In total, the prevalence in adult birds was 31.3% infected with Haemoproteus, 12.5% with Plasmodium and 71.0% with Leucocytozoon (nestlings excluded). None of the tested birds was infected with Trypanosoma avium. Only in two nestling birds, aged 12-17 days, a Leucocytozoon spp. infection was proven. Among 225 successfully sequenced samples, we found four Haemoproteus, three Plasmodium and 19 Leucocytozoon lineages, including two new Leucocytozoon lineages. Furthermore, we report two new host-lineage associations. Conclusions:As first study investigating avian haemosporidian parasites in Central Germany, we provide new information on genetic diversity of Haemosporida infecting Passeriformes. We show that even with a small sample size new lineages as well as previously unknown linkages between certain lineages and host species can be detected. This may help to elucidate the diversity of lineages as well as lineage-host-connections of avian Haemosporida.