Article: article from journal or magazin.
High prevalence and lineage diversity of avian malaria in wild populations of great tits (Parus major) and mosquitoes (Culex pipiens).
Avian malaria studies have taken a prominent place in different aspects of evolutionary ecology. Despite a recent interest in the role of vectors within the complex interaction system of the malaria parasite, they have largely been ignored in most epidemiological studies. Epidemiology of the disease is however strongly related to the vector's ecology and behaviour, and there is a need for basic investigations to obtain a better picture of the natural associations between Plasmodium lineages, vector species and bird hosts. The aim of the present study was to identify the mosquito species involved in the transmission of the haemosporidian parasites Plasmodium spp. in two wild populations of breeding great tits (Parus major) in western Switzerland. Additionally, we compared Plasmodium lineages, based on mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b sequences, between the vertebrate and dipteran hosts, and evaluated the prevalence of the parasite in the mosquito populations. Plasmodium spp. were detected in Culex pipiens only, with an overall 6.6% prevalence. Among the six cytochrome b lineages of Plasmodium identified in the mosquitoes, three were also present in great tits. The results provide evidence for the first time that C. pipiens can act as a natural vector of avian malaria in Europe and yield baseline data for future research on the epidemiology of avian malaria in European countries.
Animals, Culex/parasitology, Cytochromes b/genetics, DNA, Mitochondrial/genetics, DNA, Protozoan/genetics, Malaria, Avian/epidemiology, Malaria, Avian/parasitology, Passeriformes, Plasmodium/genetics, Prevalence, Switzerland/epidemiology
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