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Co-infections of haemosporidian and trypanosome parasites in a North American songbird

  • Letícia Soares
  • Vincenzo A. Ellis
  • Robert E Ricklefs
Publishing year: 2016-12-01
Language: English
Pages: 1930-1938
Publication/Series: Parasitology
Volume: 143
Issue: 14
Document type: Journal article
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Abstract english

Hosts frequently harbour multiple parasite infections, yet patterns of parasite co-occurrence are poorly documented in nature. In this study, we asked whether two common avian blood parasites, one haemosporidian and one trypanosome, affect each other's occurrence in individuals of a single host species. We used molecular genotyping to survey protozoan parasites in the peripheral blood of yellow-breasted chats (Aves: Passeriformes [Parulidae]: Icteria virens) from the Ozarks of Southern Missouri. We also determined whether single and co-infections differently influence white blood cell and polychromatic erythrocyte counts, the latter being a measure of regenerative anaemia. We found a positive association between the haemosporidian and trypanosome parasites, such that infection by one increases the probability that an individual host is infected by the other. Adult individuals were more likely than juveniles to exhibit haemosporidian infection, but co-infections and single trypanosome infections were not age-related. We found evidence of pathogenicity of trypanosomes in that infected individuals exhibited similar levels of regenerative anaemia as birds infected with haemosporidian parasites of the genus Plasmodium. Counts of white blood cells did not differ with respect to infection status.


  • Zoology
  • haemoparasites
  • Icteria virens
  • Ozarks plateau
  • Reticulocytes
  • within-host interactions
  • yellow-breasted chat


  • ISSN: 0031-1820
Vincenzo Ellis
E-mail: vincenzo [dot] alexander_ellis [at] biol [dot] lu [dot] se

Visiting research fellow


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