Abstract

A novel coccidian species was discovered in the prostate of an Antechinus flavipes (yellow-footed antechinus) in South Australia during the period of postmating male antechinus immunosuppression and mortality. This novel coccidian is unusual because it develops extraintestinally and sporulates endogenously within the prostate gland of its mammalian host. Histological examination of prostatic tissue revealed dense aggregations of spherical and thin-walled tetrasporocystic, dizoic, sporulated coccidian oocysts within tubular lumina, with unsporulated oocysts and gamogonic stages within the cytoplasm of glandular epithelial cells. This coccidian was observed occurring concurrently with dasyurid gammaherpesvirus 1 infection of the antechinus' prostate. Eimeria-specific 18S small-subunit ribosomal (r)DNA polymerase chain reaction amplification was used to obtain a partial 18S rDNA nucleotide sequence from the antechinus coccidian. Bayesian phylogenetic analysis based on 18S rDNA gene sequences revealed that the novel coccidian clusters with reptile-host coccidians, forming an ancestral basal lineage of the eimeriid clade. The species has been named Eimeria taggarti n. sp. on the basis of both sporulated oocyst morphology and molecular characterization. It is suspected that E. taggarti is sexually transmitted via excretion of sporulated oocysts or free sporocysts with prostatic secretions in semen.

You do not currently have access to this content.