Molecular Analysis of Haemogregarinidae in Freshwater Turtles
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Habitat fragmentation and other environmental stressors are major factors in declines of biodiversity and can impact specific animal populations. To aid in conservation efforts, individuals from impacted populations may be removed from at-risk areas, captive propagated, and the offspring subsequently released into the environment. This strategy is commonly applied to conservation efforts for turtle populations. These turtles are often stressed when entering captive populations, and consequently are more susceptible to diseases. Captive propagation may also increase the risk of disease or parasite transmission due to high density propagation and transport. In freshwater turtles, the most common blood parasites are specifically represented by members of Haemogregarinidae; Haemogregarina, Hemolivia and Hepatozoon. I determined the prevalence of these blood parasites and related the infecting parasite species to turtle species. Previously, collected samples from eight locations were classified as Wild, Captive, or Wild Caught Captive Raised, which comprised of 326 blood samples from six turtle families; Bataguridae, Chelidae, Emydidae, Kinosternidae, Pelomedusidae, and Trionychidae. SybrGreen-based qPCR detected Haemogregarinidae in 88 of these samples–53% of individuals belonging to Bataguridae, 26% belonging to Emydidae and 23% belonging to Kinosternidae. Comparative sequence analyses of 18S rRNA gene fragments (633 basepairs) representing members of the Haemogregarinidae identified 73 Haemogregarina infections, 2 Hepatozoon infections, and 1 Hemolivia infection.