Culicoides paolae and C. circumscriptus as potential vectors of avian haemosporidians in an arid ecosystem.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Haemosporidians are the most important vector-borne parasites due to their cosmopolitan distribution and their wide range of hosts, including humans. Identification of their vectors is critical to highlight ecologically and epidemiologically relevant features such as host specificity or transmission routes. Biting midges of the genus Culicoides are considered the main vectors of Haemoproteus spp., yet important information on aspects such as vector feeding preferences or vector-host specificity involving haemosporidian parasites is frequently missing. METHODS:We assessed the abundance of Culicoides circumscriptus and C. paolae and blood sources of the latter at the nests of cavity-nesting bird species (mainly the European roller Coracias garrulus) and in their surroundings. We also explored the prevalence and genetic diversity of avian haemosporidians in parous females of both species. RESULTS:Both C. circumscriptus and C. paolae were abundant in the study area and common at European roller nests. Culicoides paolae had a diverse ornithophilic diet, feeding on at least seven bird species. Human DNA was also detected in the blood meal of some individuals. Four Haemoproteus lineages, including a new one reported here for the first time, were isolated from parous females of both biting midges. CONCLUSIONS:Culicoides circumscriptus and C. paolae can play a locally important role in the transmission dynamics of Haemoproteus parasites in a community of cavity-nesting bird species in an arid ecosystem.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Haemosporidian parasites are transmitted by dipteran blood-sucking insects but certain vectors remain unidentified for the great majority of described species. Sensitive PCR-based methods are often used for the detection of haemosporidian infection in wild-caught insects. However, this approach alone cannot distinguish between different sporogonic stages and thus is insufficient to demonstrate that the parasites produce the infective stage (sporozoite), which is essential for transmission. To prove that PCR-positive insects could act as vectors, the record of sporozoites is needed. We developed a methodology for the determination of natural vectors of avian Haemoproteus species and other haemosporidians. The essence of this approach is to apply PCR-based and microscopic diagnostic tools in parallel for sporozoite detection in insects. METHODS:Culicoides biting midges transmit avian Haemoproteus parasites, but certain insect species, which are involved in transmission, remain insufficiently investigated. Biting midges were collected in the wild and identified; parous females were dissected and preparations of thorax content containing salivary glands were prepared. Remnants of the dissected midges were screened using PCR-based methods. Only thorax preparations of PCR-positive biting midges were examined microscopically. RESULTS:In total, 460 parous females belonging to 15 species were collected and dissected. DNA of haemosporidians was detected in 32 (7%) of dissected insects belonging to 7 species. Of the thorax samples PCR-positive for Haemoproteus parasites, two preparations were microscopically positive for sporozoites. Both biting midges were Culicoides kibunensis. Haemoproteus pallidus (hPFC1) was identified, indicating that transmission of this infection occurs at the study site. It was proved that seven species of biting midges take bird blood meals naturally in the wild. CONCLUSIONS:Culicoides kibunensis is a new vector species of avian haemoproteids and is a natural vector of H. pallidus. Numerous studies have identified vectors of Haemoproteus parasites experimentally; however, this is the first direct identification of a natural vector of Haemoproteus infection in the Old World. We suggest using the described methodology for vector research of Haemoproteus and other haemosporidians in the wild.
Project description:Knowledge about feeding preference of blood-sucking insects is important for the better understanding epidemiology of vector-borne parasitic diseases. Extraction of DNA from blood present in abdomens of engorged insects provides opportunities to identify species of their vertebrate hosts. However, this approach often is insufficiently sensitive due to rapid degeneration of host DNA in midguts. Recent studies indicate that avian malaria parasites (Plasmodium spp.) and related haemosporidians (Haemosporida) belonging to Haemoproteus can persist both in vectors and resistant blood-sucking insects for several weeks after initial blood meals, and these parasites can be readily detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based methods. Because avian haemosporidians are cosmopolitan, prevalent and strictly specific to birds, the determination of haemosporidian DNA in blood-sucking dipterans can be used as molecular tags in determining bird-biting insects. This hypothesis was tested by investigation of prevalence of natural haemosporidian infections in wild-caught mosquitoes (Culicidae) and biting midges (Ceratopogonidae: Culicoides).Females of mosquitoes (1072 individuals of three species) and biting midges (300 individuals of three species) were collected in wildlife using simple netting. They were identified and tested individually for the presence of both the haemosporidian parasites and the bird blood using PCR-based methods. Seven different Haemoproteus and two Plasmodium lineages were detected, with overall infection prevalence of 1.12 and 1.67 % in mosquitoes and biting midges, respectively. In all, the detection rate of avian haemosporidian parasites was three fold higher compared with the detection of avian blood.Molecular markers of avian malaria parasites and other haemosporidians are recommended for getting additional knowledge about blood-sucking dipterans feeding on bird blood. Many genetic lineages of avian haemosporidians are specific to avian hosts, therefore, the detection of these parasite lineages in blood-sucking insects can indicate their feeding preferences on the level of species or groups of related bird species.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Blood-sucking flying insects play a key role in the transmission of pathogens of vector-borne diseases. However, at least for the case of avian malaria parasites, the vast majority of studies focus on the interaction between parasites and vertebrate hosts, but there is a lack of information regarding the interaction between the parasites and the insect vectors. Here, we identified the presence of malaria and malaria-like parasite lineages harbored by the potential vector Culicoides circumscriptus (Kieffer). Also, we identified some nodes of the transmission network connecting parasite lineages, potential insect vectors and avian hosts by comparing Haemoproteus and Plasmodium lineages isolated from insects with those infecting wild birds in this and previous studies. METHODS: Using a molecular approach, we analysed the presence of blood parasites in a total of 97 biting midges trapped in the Doñana National Park (SW Spain) and surrounding areas. Also, 123 blood samples from 11 bird species were analyzed for the presence of blood parasite infections. Blood parasites Haemoproteus and Plasmodium were identified by amplification of a 478 bp fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gen. RESULTS: Thirteen biting midges harboured blood parasites including six Haemoproteus and two Plasmodium lineages, supporting the potential role of these insects on parasite transmission. Moreover, ten (8.1%) birds carried blood parasites. Seven Plasmodium and one Haemoproteus lineages were isolated from birds. Overall, six new Haemoproteus lineages were described in this study. Also, we identified the transmission networks of some blood parasites. Two Haemoproteus lineages, hCIRCUM03 and GAGLA03, were identical to those isolated from Corvus monedula in southern Spain and Garrulus glandarius in Bulgaria, respectively. Furthermore, the new Haemoproteus lineage hCIRCUM05 showed a 99% similarity with a lineage found infecting captive penguins in Japan. CONCLUSIONS: The comparison of the parasite lineages isolated in this study with those previously found infecting birds allowed us to identify some potential nodes in the transmission network of avian blood parasite lineages. These results highlight the complexity of the transmission networks of blood parasites in the wild that may involve a high diversity of susceptible birds and insect vectors.
Project description:Owls are nocturnal raptors that are prevalently infected with haemosporidian parasites wordwide. These birds were commonly submitted to the Kasetsart University Raptor Rehabilitation Unit, Kasetsart University, Thailand and were examined using PCR-based methods for the presence of haemosporidian infections of by the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus. Blood samples from 167 individual owls belonging to 12 species common in Thailand were collected between September 2012 and February 2018. The overall prevalence of haemosporidians was 34.1%, with Haemoproteus infections (25.1%) being more prevalent than Plasmodium infections (9.0%). The prevalence of both Haemoproteus and Plasmodium parasites was similar in all seasons of the year. Molecular characterization revealed 17 new haemosporidian parasite lineages (11 Haemoproteus and six Plasmodium), with genetic variation among partial cytochrome b sequences ranging from 0.0% to 3.6% in Haemoproteus lineages and 0.2%-8.8% in Plasmodium lineages. Phylogenetic analysis showed that all Haemoproteus lineages detected in owls appeared in one well-supported clade together with other parasites belonging to the Parahaemoproteus subgenus, indicating their close evolutionary relationship and common transmission modality by Culicoides biting midges. This study showes the existence of prominent non-described haemosporidian parasite diversity in Thai owls and provides baseline molecular information for further research on the genetic diversity of owl haemosporidian parasites. New DNA sequence information can be used for the diagnosis of owl infections, which have been often reported during rehabilitation planning.
Project description:Although avian trypanosomes are widespread parasites, the knowledge of their vectors is still incomplete. Despite biting midges (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) are considered as potential vectors of avian trypanosomes, their role in transmission has not been satisfactorily elucidated. Our aim was to clarify the potential of biting midges to sustain the development of avian trypanosomes by testing their susceptibility to different strains of avian trypanosomes experimentally. Moreover, we screened biting midges for natural infections in the wild.Laboratory-bred biting midges Culicoides nubeculosus were highly susceptible to trypanosomes from the Trypanosoma bennetti and T. avium clades. Infection rates reached 100%, heavy infections developed in 55-87% of blood-fed females. Parasite stages from the insect gut were infective for birds. Moreover, midges could be infected after feeding on a trypanosome-positive bird. Avian trypanosomes can thus complete their cycle in birds and biting midges. Furthermore, we succeeded to find infected blood meal-free biting midges in the wild.Biting midges are probable vectors of avian trypanosomes belonging to T. bennetti group. Midges are highly susceptible to artificial infections, can be infected after feeding on birds, and T. bennetti-infected biting midges (Culicoides spp.) have been found in nature. Moreover, midges can be used as model hosts producing metacyclic avian trypanosome stages infective for avian hosts.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The majority of penguins (Sphenisciformes) have evolved in areas with weak or absent transmission of haemosporidian parasites and are usually naïve to avian haemosporidian infections. Plasmodium parasites are transmitted by mosquitoes, and lethal avian malaria has been often reported in captive penguins in many countries. The related haemosporidian parasites belonging to Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon have also been detected in penguins but less often than Plasmodium infections. The majority of Haemoproteus infection reports in penguins are based solely on PCR-based diagnostics. It remains unclear if haemoproteids can complete their life-cycle and produce infective stages (gametocytes) in penguins or whether these infections are abortive in penguins, and thus dead ends for transmission. In other words, it remains unknown if penguins are competent hosts for Haemoproteus parasites, which cause disease in non-adapted birds. METHODS:Two captive African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) and two Magellanic penguins (S. magellanicus) were found to be positive for Haemoproteus infection in two open-air aquariums in Japan, and the parasites were investigated using both PCR-based testing and microscopical examination of blood films. Samples from a black-tailed gull (Larus crassirostris) and previously tested gulls were used for comparison. RESULTS:The lineage hSPMAG12 was detected, and gametocytes of Haemoproteus sp. were seen in the examined penguins and gull. Observed gametocytes were indistinguishable from those of Haemoproteus larae, which naturally parasitize birds of the genus Larus (Laridae). The detected sequence information and Bayesian phylogenetic analysis supported this conclusion. Additionally, morphologically similar gametocytes and closely related DNA sequences were also found in other gull species in Japan. Phylogenetic analysis based on partial cytb sequences placed the lineage hSPMAG12 of H. larae within the clade of avian haemoproteids which belong to the subgenus Parahaemoproteus, indicating that Culicoides biting midges likely transmit the parasites between penguins and gulls. CONCLUSIONS:This study shows that some species of Haemoproteus parasites complete their development and produce gametocytes in penguins, which may be source of infection for biting midges transmitting haemoproteosis. To prevent haemosporidiosis in zoos, we call for control not only of mosquitoes, but also biting midges.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Blood parasites of the genus Haemoproteus Kruse, 1890 are cosmopolitan, might be responsible for mortality in non-adapted birds, and often kill blood-sucking insects. However, this group remains insufficiently investigated in the wild. This is particularly true for the parasites of leaf warblers of the Phylloscopidae Alström, Ericson, Olsson & Sundberg the common small Old World passerine birds whose haemoproteid parasite diversity and vectors remain poorly studied. This study reports a new species of Haemoproteus parasitizing leaf warblers, its susceptible vector and peculiar phylogenetic relationships with other haemoproteids. METHODS:Wood warblers (Phylloscopus sibilatrix Bechstein) were caught in Lithuania during spring migration, and blood films were examined microscopically. Laboratory reared Culicoides nubeculosus Meigen were exposed experimentally by allowing them to take blood meals on one individual harbouring mature gametocytes of the new Haemoproteus species (lineage hPHSIB2). To follow sporogonic development, the engorged insects were dissected at intervals. The parasite lineage was distinguished using sequence data, and morphological analysis of blood and sporogonic stages was carried out. Bayesian phylogeny was constructed in order to determine the phylogenetic relationships of the new parasite with other haemoproteids. RESULTS:Haemoproteus (Parahaemoproteus) homopalloris n. sp. was common in wood warblers sampled after arrival to Europe from their wintering grounds in Africa. The new parasite belongs to a group of avian haemoproteid species with macrogametocytes possessing pale staining cytoplasm. All species of this group clustered together in the phylogenetic analysis, indicating that intensity of the cytoplasm staining is a valuable phylogenetic character. Laboratory-reared biting midges C. nubeculosus readily supported sporogony of new infections. Phylogenetic analysis corroborated vector experiments, placing the new parasite in the clade of Haemoproteus (Parahaemoproteus) parasites transmitted by biting midges. CONCLUSIONS:Haemoproteus homopalloris n. sp. is the third haemoproteid, which is described from and is prevalent in wood warblers. Phylogenetic analysis identified a clade containing seven haemoproteids, which are characterised by pale staining of the macrogametocyte cytoplasm and with ookinetes maturing exceptionally rapidly (between 1 to 1.5 h after exposure to air). Both these features may represent valuable phylogenetic characters. Studies targeting mechanisms of sporogonic development of haemoproteids remain uncommon and should be encouraged. Culicoides nubeculosus is an excellent experimental vector of the new parasite species.
Project description:To evaluate the host preferences of Culicoides species (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) in Central Tunisia, we identified the source of blood meals of field collected specimens by sequencing of the cytochrome b (cyt b) mitochondrial locus and Prepronociceptine single copy nuclear gene. The study includes the most common and abundant livestock associated species of biting midges in Tunisia: C. imicola, C. jumineri, C. newsteadi, C. paolae, C. cataneii, C. circumscriptus, C. kingi, C. pseudojumineri, C. submaritimus, C. langeroni, C. jumineri var and some unidentified C. species. Analysis of cyt b PCR products from 182 field collected blood-engorged females' midges revealed that 92% of them fed solely on mammalian species, 1.6% on birds, 2.4% on insects and 0.8% on reptiles. The blast results identified the blood origin of biting midges to the species level with exact or nearly exact matches (?98%). The results confirm the presence of several Culicoides species, including proven vectors in Central Tunisia. Blood meal analyses show that these species will indeed feed on bigger mammals, thereby highlighting the risk that these viruses will be able to spread in Tunisia.
Project description:Haemoproteus parasites are widespread, and several species cause diseases both in birds and blood-sucking insects. These pathogens are transmitted by dipterans belonging to the Ceratopogonidae and Hippoboscidae, however certain vector species remain unknown for the majority of Haemoproteus spp. Owls are often infected by Haemoproteus parasites, but experimental studies on vectors of these infections are lacking. The aim of this study was to investigate sporogonic development of two widespread Haemoproteus parasites of owls, H. noctuae and H. syrnii in experimentally infected biting midges Culicoides impunctatus and Culicoides nubeculosus. We also followed in vitro sporogonic development of these infections and determined their phylogenetic relationships with Haemoproteus spp., for which vectors have been identified.Wild-caught C. impunctatus and laboratory reared C. nubeculosus were infected experimentally by allowing them to take blood meals on one individual long-eared owl (Asio otus) and one tawny owl (Strix aluco) harbouring mature gametocytes of H. noctuae (lineage hCIRCUM01) and H. syrnii (hCULCIB01), respectively. The engorged insects were maintained in the laboratory at 16-18 °C, and dissected at intervals in order to follow the development of ookinetes, oocysts and sporozoites. We also observed in vitro development of sexual stages of both parasites by exposure of infected blood to air. The parasite lineages were determined by polymerase chain reaction-based methods. Bayesian phylogeny was constructed in order to determine the relationships of owl parasites with other avian Haemoproteus spp., for which vectors have been identified.Both H. noctuae and H. syrnii completed sporogony in C. nubeculosus, and H. noctuae completed sporogony in C. impunctatus. Ookinetes, oocysts and sporozoites of these parasites were reported and described. Gametes and ookinetes of both species readily developed in vitro. In accordance with sporogony data, the phylogenetic analysis placed both parasite lineages in a clade of Culicoides spp.-transmitted avian Haemoproteus (Parahaemoproteus) spp.Culicoides nubeculosus and C. impunctatus are vectors of H. noctuae and H. syrnii. Phylogenies based on cytochrome b gene indicate parasite-vector relationships, and we recommend using them in predicting possible parasite-vector relationships and planning research on avian Haemoproteus spp. vectors in wildlife.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Host preference studies in haematophagous insects e.g. Culicoides biting midges are pivotal to assess transmission routes of vector-borne diseases and critical for the development of veterinary contingency plans to identify which species should be included due to their risk potential. Species of Culicoides have been found in almost all parts of the world and known to live in a variety of habitats. Several parasites and viruses are transmitted by Culicoides biting midges including Bluetongue virus and Schmallenberg virus. The aim of the present study was to determine the identity and diversity of blood meals taken from vertebrate hosts in wild-caught Culicoides biting midges near livestock farms. METHODS: Biting midges were collected at weekly intervals for 20 weeks from May to October 2009 using light traps at four collection sites on the island Sealand, Denmark. Blood-fed female biting midges were sorted and head and wings were removed for morphological species identification. The thoraxes and abdomens including the blood meals of the individual females were subsequently subjected to DNA isolation. The molecular marker cytochrome oxidase I (COI barcode) was applied to identify the species of the collected biting midges (GenBank accessions JQ683259-JQ683374). The blood meals were first screened with a species-specific cytochrome b primer pair for cow and if negative with a universal cytochrome b primer pair followed by sequencing to identify mammal or avian blood meal hosts. RESULTS: Twenty-four species of biting midges were identified from the four study sites. A total of 111,356 Culicoides biting midges were collected, of which 2,164 were blood-fed. Specimens of twenty species were identified with blood in their abdomens. Blood meal sources were successfully identified by DNA sequencing from 242 (76%) out of 320 Culicoides specimens. Eight species of mammals and seven species of birds were identified as blood meal hosts. The most common host species was the cow, which constituted 77% of the identified blood meals. The second most numerous host species was the common wood pigeon, which constituted 6% of the identified blood meals. CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that some Culicoides species are opportunistic and readily feed on a variety of mammals and birds, while others seems to be strictly mammalophilic or ornithophilic. Based on their number, dispersal potential and blood feeding behaviour, we conclude that Culicoides biting midges are potential vectors for many pathogens not yet introduced to Denmark.