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The chiropteran haemosporidian Polychromophilus melanipherus: A worldwide species complex restricted to the family Miniopteridae

Duval L., Mejean C., Maganga G.D., Makanga B., Mangama Koumba L., Peirce M., Ariey F., Bourgarel M.. 2012. Infection, Genetics and Evolution, 12 (7) : p. 1558-1566.

DOI: 10.1016/j.meegid.2012.06.006

This paper attempts to expand on the current knowledge regarding the evolutionary history of bat haemosporidian parasites. Using modern molecular tools as adjuncts to existing morphological descriptions, our understanding of the diversity of these parasites is discussed. The biogeography and host range distribution together with possible host-parasite interactions remain to be evaluated in more detail. Using a nested-PCR cytochrome b mitochondrial gene approach, we established a screening programme and survey of several months duration for haemosporidian parasites in four central African bat species living in an ecological community. The aim of the study was to describe parasites morphologically and molecularly, together with parasite prevalence variations over time, and evaluate parasite host-specificity in these sympatric cave bats. Over the survey period, Polychromophilus melanipherus was the only haemosporidian parasite identified in Miniopterus inflatus, with a continuous molecular prevalence of at least 60%. Molecular phylogenetic analyses show that P. melanipherus is a monophyletic group infecting Miniopterus bats which is, a sister group to P. murinus and Polychromophilus spp. This monophyletic group is composed of different cyt b haplotypes molecularly distantly related (but morphologically similar), circulating without geographic or host species distinction. This suggests that P. melanipherus is a species complex restricted to the family Miniopteridae. The phylogenetic analysis confirms that Polychromophilus parasites are distributed worldwide and supports the view that they are more closely related to avian haemosporidian parasites.

Mots-clés : coccidia; chiroptera; espèce; Évolution; biogéographie; distribution géographique; pcr; biologie moléculaire; anatomie animale; identification; parasite; parasitisme; hôte; gabon; polychromophilus melanipherus; miniopterus inflatus; miniopteridae

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