The online version of this article (https://doi.org/10.1186/s12936-018-2461-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Bats are home to diverse haemosporidian parasites namely Plasmodium and Plasmodium-related. While information is available at a worldwide level, haemosporidian infection in bats from Madagascar is still scarce and recent changes in the taxonomy of the island’s bat fauna, particularly the description of several new species, require a reassessment of previously described patterns, including blood parasite ecology and vectorial transmission.
A sample representing seven of the nine known bat families and 31 of the 46 currently recognized taxa from Madagascar and collected in the western and central portions of the island were screened by PCR for the presence of Polychromophilus. In addition, Nycteribiidae flies parasitizing Miniopteridae and Vespertilionidae were screened for parasites with the aim to better understand aspects of vector transmission. Phylogenetic reconstruction using the mitochondrial cytochrome b encoding gene was used in a Bayesian analysis to examine the relationship between Polychromophilus recovered from Malagasy bats and those identified elsewhere.
Polychromophilus infection was restricted to Miniopterus spp. (Miniopteridae), Myotis goudoti (Vespertilionidae), and Paratriaenops furculus (Rhinonycteridae), with an overall infection rate of 13.5%. Polychromophilus melanipherus was found infecting Miniopterus spp. and P. furculus, whereas Polychromophilus murinus was only recovered from M. goudoti. These two protozoan parasites species were also detected in bat flies species known to parasitize Miniopterus spp. and M. goudoti, respectively. Generalized linear model analyses were conducted to elucidate the effect of species and sex on haemoparasites infection in Miniopterus spp., which revealed that males have higher risk of infection than females and prevalence differed according to the considered Miniopterus host. Molecular screening of nycteribiid flies revealed three positive species for Polychromophilus spp., including Penicillidia sp. (cf. fulvida), Penicillidia leptothrinax, and Nycteribia stylidiopsis. These three fly species are known to parasitize Miniopterus spp. and M. goudoti and should be considered as potential vectors of Polychromophilus spp.
Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated the existence of at least four distinct clades within the genus Polychromophilus, two of which were documented in the present study. The screening of nycteribiid flies overlaid on the highly diversified genus Miniopterus, provides considerable insight into parasite transmission, with bat infection being associated with their roosting behaviour and the occurrence of specific arthropod vectors.
Additional file 1: Table S1. Parasites included in the present study, including Haplotype, Isolate, GenBank accession numbers, host species, Museum voucher and origin. Molecular data produced in the frame of the present work are marked with an asterisk (*). FMNH = Field Museum of Natural History, UADBA = Université d’Antananarivo, Département de Biologie Animale, NA: not available.
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- Polychromophilus spp. (Haemosporida) in Malagasy bats: host specificity and insights on invertebrate vectors
Steven M. Goodman
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