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Trichomonas stableri n. sp., an agent of trichomonosis in Pacific Coast band-tailed pigeons (Patagioenas fasciata monilis)

  • Author(s): Girard, YA
  • Rogers, KH
  • Gerhold, R
  • Land, KM
  • Lenaghan, SC
  • Woods, LW
  • Haberkern, N
  • Hopper, M
  • Cann, JD
  • Johnson, CK
  • et al.

Trichomonas gallinae is a ubiquitous flagellated protozoan parasite, and the most common etiologic agent of epidemic trichomonosis in columbid and passerine species. In this study, free-ranging Pacific Coast band-tailed pigeons (Patagioenas fasciata monilis) in California (USA) were found to be infected with trichomonad protozoa that were genetically and morphologically distinct from T. gallinae. In microscopic analysis, protozoa were significantly smaller in length and width than T. gallinae and were bimodal in morphology. Phylogenetic analysis of the ITS1/5.8S/ITS2, rpb1, and hydrogenosomal Fe-hydrogenase regions revealed that the protozoan shares an ancestor with Trichomonas vaginalis, the sexually-transmitted agent of trichomoniasis in humans. Clinical and pathologic features of infected birds were similar to infections with T. gallinae. Evidence presented here strongly support taxonomical distinction of this parasite, which we hereby name Trichomonas stableri n. sp. This work contributes to a growing body of evidence that T. gallinae is not the sole etiologic agent of avian trichomonosis, and that the incorporation of molecular tools is critical in the investigation of infectious causes of mortality in birds. © 2013 The Authors.

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