Although avian Plasmodium species are widespread and common across the globe, limited data exist on how genetically variable their populations are. Here, the hypothesis that the avian blood parasite Plasmodium relictum exhibits very low genetic diversity in its Western Palearctic transmission area (from Morocco to Sweden in the north and Transcaucasia in the east) was tested.
Avian malaria is a common and widespread disease of birds caused by a diverse group of pathogens of the genera Plasmodium. We investigated the transcriptomal profiles of one of the most common species, Plasmodium relictum, lineage SGS1, at multiple timepoints during the blood stages of the infection under experimental settings.
The malaria parasite Plasmodium relictum is one of the most widespread species of avian malaria. As is the case in its human counterparts, bird Plasmodium undergoes a complex life cycle infecting two hosts: the arthropod vector and the vertebrate host. In this study, we examined transcriptomes of P. relictum (SGS1) during crucial timepoints within its vector, Culex pipiens quinquefasciatus.
Plasmodium relictum is the most common generalist avian malaria parasite, which was reported in over 300 bird species of different orders, particularly often in passerines. This malaria infection is often severe in non-accustomed avian hosts. Currently, five distinct cytochrome b gene lineages have been assigned to P. relictum, with the lineages pSGS1 and pGRW04 being the most common.
Complex experimental studies of vertebrate host, vector, and parasite interactions are essential in understanding virulence, but are difficult or impossible to conduct if vector species are unknown. Subinoculation of erythrocytic meronts of avian malarial parasites into susceptible hosts can avoid this problem, but this approach omits early exoerythrocytic stages, e.g. cryptozoites and metacryptozoites, that normally develop from sporozoites.
The transcriptional response of hosts to genetically similar pathogens can vary substantially, with important implications for disease severity and host fitness. A low pathogen load can theoretically elicit both high and low host responses, as the outcome depends on both the effectiveness of the host at suppressing the pathogen and the ability of the pathogen to evade the immune system. Here, we investigate the transcriptional response of Eurasian siskins (Spinus spinus) to two closely related lineages of the malaria parasite Plasmodium relictum.
Within the huge spectrum of vertebrate hosts, mosquito vectors, and ecological conditions, different lineages of P. relictum exhibit indistinguishable, markedly variable morphological forms.
Acquiring genomic material from avian malaria parasites for genome sequencing has proven problematic due to the nucleation of avian erythrocytes, which produces a large ratio of host to parasite DNA (∼1 million to 1 bp).
Plasmodium relictum (lineage pGRW4) causes malaria in birds and is actively transmitted in countries with warm climates and also temperate regions of the New World.