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Detection and molecular characterization of Sarcocystis marsupials (Didelphis spp.) of Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul


Protozoan of the Sarcocystis genus are coccidia worldwide distributed, known parasites of several systems in avian, reptiles, fish and mammals, including humans. Marsupials of Didelphis genus (opossums) are the known definitive hosts for different species of Sarcocystis, shedding sporocysts in their faeces. S. neurona is the parasite most frequently associated to equine protozoal myeloencephalitis (EPM), a disease widely distribute in the region of Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, possibly related to the abundant number of opossums living in that area. The differentiation between Sarcocystis species have been studied for years, by means of molecular analysis and phylogenetic studies. During the last years a wide collection of Sarcocystis strains have been isolated in several hosts. Previous studies demonstrated a great diversity of allele variation for genes encoding surface antigens (SAG) in sporocysts of Sarcocystis shed by opossums. Inversely, the number of allele variants for the first internal transcribed spacer (ITS) was low. Therefore, the present study aims to access the phylogenetic relations among Sarcocystis spp. isolated from free-living opossums from Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, evaluating molecular markers with different evolutionary rates, from the loci encoding for SAGs, cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1), and ITS1 of the parasite. This way, it is expected to better understand the real genetic diversity between Sarcocystis, which could be associated with the increase in the risk of disease. (AU)