Folia Parasitologica 63:023 (2016) | 10.14411/fp.2016.023
Avian haemosporidians are common vector-borne blood parasites that have been reported in birds all over the world. Investigations of avian haemosporidian parasites are conducted mainly on passerine birds. However, studies that focus on non-passerine avian hosts are important for our understanding of the true diversity, host specificity and genetic variability among these widespread parasites. In the present study, blood samples from a total of 22 raptor birds belonging to two orders, two families and six species from the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey were investigated for three genera of avian haemosporidians (Plasmodium Marchiafava et Celli, 1885, Haemoproteus Kruse, 1890 and Leucocytozoon Sambon, 1908) using a combination of microscopic examination of blood films and nested PCR targeting the parasite mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (cyt-b). In total, six individual raptor birds identified positive for species of Plasmodium or Leucocytozoon and one individual was found co-infected with all three haemosporidian genera. We identified five parasite cyt-b haplotypes, three of which were reported for the first time. Among these, one Plasmodium haplotype is linked to a corresponding morphospecies (P-TURDUS1, Plasmodium circumflexum Kikuth, 1931). All haplotypes were clearly distinguishable in phylogenetic analyses. As one of the first studies to investigate blood parasites from non-passerine birds in the Central Anatolia Region of Turkey, this study provides important new information on the phylogenetic relationships and genetic diversity of avian haemosporidian parasites from raptor birds. We discuss these findings in the context of avian haemosporidian host-parasite relationships and we draw attention to the need for microscopy to detect parasite sexual development stages in surveys of avian haemosporidians.
Received: January 30, 2016; Accepted: May 2, 2016; Published online: June 17, 2016