ABSTRACT

An unusual coccidian parasite was described previously from the prostate of a male Antechinus flavipes (family: Dasyuridae; common name: yellow-footed antechinus). Morphometrics and a partial nuclear 18S small subunit rDNA (18S rDNA) sequence were used to assign this parasite to the genus Eimeria; it was named Eimeria taggarti. We generated full nuclear 18S rDNA and mitochondrial genome sequences from this parasite and used the newly completed 18S rDNA and mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) sequences to perform a more in-depth phylogenetic analysis. The parasite clustered closely with Choleoeimeria spp. and Acroeimeria spp. infecting herptiles in a well-supported clade that was the sister lineage to the Eimeriidae sensu stricto. The mitochondrial genome of this parasite contained 2 inverted segments compared to mitochondrial genomes from parasites in the Eimeriidae sensu stricto (i.e., Stieda body-possessing coccidia with 4 dizoic sporocysts); this mitochondrial genome arrangement was shared with the only Choleoeimeria species for which sequence data were available publicly. Examination of histological preparations and TEM images uncovered bivalvate sporocysts and otherwise confirmed previously described morphological features of the parasite. Based on our phylogenetic analyses and histological observations, we propose the generic reclassification of E. taggarti to Choleoeimeria taggarti n. comb.

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