Identification of novel trypanosome genotypes in native Australian marsupials
Andrea Paparini a,∗, Peter J. Irwin a, Kris Warren a, Linda M. McInnes a, Paul de Tores b, Una M. Ryana
a Division of Health Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150, Australia
b Department of Environment and Conservation, Perth, Western Australia 6330, Australia
∗ Corresponding author at: Division of Health Sciences, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch, Western Australia 6150, Australia. Tel.: +61 89360 6650; fax: +61 89310 41
In the present study, the occurrence and molecular phylogeny of trypanosome parasites were studied in both wild and captive marsupials from Western Australia and Queensland. Blood samples were screened by PCR at the 18S rDNA locus, and the glycosomal glyceraldehyde phosphate dehydrogenase gene. Overall, 5.3% of the blood samples were positive at the 18S rDNA locus. All positives belonged to wild-captured Western Australian individuals, where trypanosome-specific DNA was detected in 9.8% of the screened samples from wild marsupials, in common brushtail possums, and woylies. The detection rate of trypanosome DNA in these two host species was 12.5% and 20%, respectively. Phylogenetic analyses based on two loci, indicated that the possum-derived trypanosome isolates were genetically distinct, and most closely related to the Australian marsupial trypanosomes H25 from a kangaroo, and BRA2 from a bush rat. This is the first study to genetically characterise trypanosome isolates from possums. The analysis of the woylie-derived isolates demonstrated that this marsupial host can harbour multiple genotypes within the same geographical location and furthermore multiple genotypes within the same host, indicative of mixed infections. All the woylie-derive genotypes grouped with trypanosomes found in Australian marsupials, suggesting that they are more likely to belong to an endemic or Australasian trypanosome species. This is the first study to genetically characterise trypanosome isolates from possums (Trichosurus vulpecula). Although the clinical significance of these infections is currently unknown, the identification of these novel sequences may support future investigations on transmission, threats to endangered wildlife, and evolutionary history of the genus Trypanosoma.