Detection of Plasmodium sp. in capybara

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dos Santos, Leonilda Correia ; Curotto, Sandra Mara Rotter ; de Moraes, Wanderlei ; Cubas, Zalmir Silvino ; Costa-Nascimento, Maria de Jesus ; Filho, Ivan Roque de Barros ; Biondo, Alexander Welker ; Kirchgatter, Karin (2009)

In the present study, we have microscopically and molecularly surveyed blood samples from 11 captive capybaras (Hydrochaeris hydrochaeris) from the Sanctuary Zoo for Plasmodium sp. infection. One animal presented positive on blood smear by light microscopy. Polymerase chain reaction was carried out accordingly using a nested genus specific protocol, which uses oligonucleotides from conserved sequences flanking a variable sequence region in the small subunit ribosomal RNA (ssrRNA) of all Plasmodium organisms. This revealed three positive animals. Products from two samples were purified and sequenced. The results showed less than 1% divergence between the two capybara sequences. When compared with GenBank sequences, a 55% similarity was obtained to Toxoplasma gondii and a higher similarity (73– 77.2%) was found to ssrRNAs from Plasmodium species that infect reptile, avian, rodents, and human beings. The most similar Plasmodium sequence was from Plasmodium mexicanum that infects lizards of North America, where around 78% identity was found. This work is the first report of Plasmodium in capybaras, and due to the low similarity with other Plasmodium species, we suggest it is a new species, which, in the future could be denominated ''Plasmodium hydrochaeri''.
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