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Epidemiology and molecular phylogeny of Babesia sp. in little penguins Eudyptula minor in Australia


Vanstreels, RET and Woehler, EJ and Ruoppolo, V and Vertigan, P and Carlile, N and Priddel, D and Finger, A and Dann, P and Herrin, KV and Thompson, P and Ferreira Junior, FC and Braga, EM and Hurtado, R and Epiphanio, S and Catao-Dias, JL, Epidemiology and molecular phylogeny of Babesia sp. in little penguins Eudyptula minor in Australia, International Journal for Parasitology: Parasites and Wildlife, 4, (2) pp. 198-205. ISSN 2213-2244 (2015) [Refereed Article]


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Copyright 2015 The Authors Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.ijppaw.2015.03.002


Blood parasites are potential threats to the health of penguins and to their conservation and management. Little penguins Eudyptula minor are native to Australia and New Zealand, and are susceptible to piroplasmids (Babesia), hemosporidians (Haemoproteus, Leucocytozoon, Plasmodium) and kinetoplastids (Trypanosoma). We studied a total of 263 wild little penguins at 20 sites along the Australian southeastern coast, in addition to 16 captive-bred little penguins. Babesia sp. was identified in seven wild little penguins, with positive individuals recorded in New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. True prevalence was estimated between 3.4% and 4.5%. Only round forms of the parasite were observed, and gene sequencing confirmed the identity of the parasite and demonstrated it is closely related to Babesia poelea from boobies (Sula spp.) and B. uriae from murres (Uria aalge). None of the Babesia-positive penguins presented signs of disease, confirming earlier suggestions that chronic infections by these parasites are not substantially problematic to otherwise healthy little penguins. We searched also for kinetoplastids, and despite targeted sampling of little penguins near the location where Trypanosoma eudyptulae was originally reported, this parasite was not detected.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:blood parasite, health, seabird, Sphenisciformes, tick-borne pathogen
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Vertebrate biology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Marine systems and management
Objective Field:Marine biodiversity
UTAS Author:Woehler, EJ (Dr Eric Woehler)
ID Code:105916
Year Published:2015
Web of Science® Times Cited:15
Deposited By:IMAS Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2016-01-20
Last Modified:2017-10-31
Downloads:155 View Download Statistics

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