Molecular characterization of Cryptosporidium and Giardia from the Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)

Liana F. Wait, Samantha Fox, Sarah Peck, Michelle L. Power

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11 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The Tasmanian devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) is a carnivorous marsupial found only in the wild in Tasmania, Australia. Tasmanian devils are classified as endangered and are currently threatened by devil facial tumour disease, a lethal transmissible cancer that has decimated the wild population in Tasmania. To prevent extinction of Tasmanian devils, conservation management was implemented in 2003 under the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program. This study aimed to assess if conservation management was altering the interactions between Tasmanian devils and their parasites. Molecular tools were used to investigate the prevalence and diversity of two protozoan parasites, Cryptosporidium and Giardia, in Tasmanian devils. A comparison of parasite prevalence between wild and captive Tasmanian devils showed that both Cryptosporidium and Giardia were significantly more prevalent in wild devils (p < 0.05); Cryptosporidium was identified in 37.9% of wild devils but only 10.7% of captive devils, while Giardia was identified in 24.1% of wild devils but only 0.82% of captive devils. Molecular analysis identified the presence of novel genotypes of both Cryptosporidium and Giardia. The novel Cryptosporidium genotype was 98.1% similar at the 18S rDNA to Cryptosporidium varanii(syn. C saurophilum) with additional samples identified as C fayeri, C muris, and C galli. Two novel Giardia genotypes, TD genotype 1 and TD genotype 2, were similar to G. duodenalis from dogs (94.4%) and a Giardia assemblage A isolate from humans (86.9%). Giardia duodenalis BIV, a zoonotic genotype of Giardia, was also identified in a single captive Tasmanian devil. These findings suggest that conservation management may be altering host-parasite interactions in the Tasmanian devil, and the presence of G. duodenalis BIV in a captive devil points to possible human-devil parasite transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0174994
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume12
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2017

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Copyright the Author(s) 2017. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

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