Ecology of malaria parasites infecting Southeast Asian macaques: evidence from cytochrome b sequences

Authors

  • CHATURONG PUTAPORNTIP,

    1. Molecular Biology of Malaria and Opportunistic Parasites Research Unit, Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
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  • SOMCHAI JONGWUTIWES,

    1. Molecular Biology of Malaria and Opportunistic Parasites Research Unit, Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
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  • SIRIPORN THONGAREE,

    1. Hala-Bala Wildlife Research Station, National Park and Wildlife Research Division, Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, Bangkok 10900, Thailand
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  • SUNEE SEETHAMCHAI,

    1. Department of Biology, Naresuan University, Pitsanulok 65000, Thailand
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  • PRISCILA GRYNBERG,

    1. Department of Biochemistry and Immunology, ICB, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil
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  • AUSTIN L. HUGHES

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, USA
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Chaturong Putaporntip and Austin L. Hughes, Fax: +1-803-777-4002; E-mail: austin@biol.sc.edu; p.chaturong@gmail.com

Abstract

Although malaria parasites infecting non-human primates are important models for human malaria, little is known of the ecology of infection by these parasites in the wild. We extensively sequenced cytochrome b (cytb) of malaria parasites (Apicomplexa: Haemosporida) from free-living southeast Asian monkeys Macaca nemestrina and Macaca fascicularis. The two most commonly observed taxa were Plasmodium inui and Hepatocystis sp., but certain other sequences did not cluster closely with any previously sequenced species. Most of the major clades of parasites were found in both Macaca species, and the two most commonly occurring parasite infected the two Macaca species at approximately equal levels. However, P. inui showed evidence of genetic differentiation between the populations infecting the two Macaca species, suggesting limited movement of this parasite among hosts. Moreover, coinfection with Plasmodium and Hepatocystis species occurred significantly less frequently than expected on the basis of the rates of infection with either taxon alone, suggesting the possibility of competitive exclusion. The results revealed unexpectedly complex communities of Plasmodium and Hepatocystis taxa infecting wild southeast Asian monkeys. Parasite taxa differed with respect to both the frequency of between-host movement and their frequency of coinfection.

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