Morphological and molecular characterization and phylogenetic relationships of a new species of trypanosome in Tapirus terrestris (lowland tapir), Trypanosoma terrestris sp nov., from Atlantic Rainforest of southeastern Brazil
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Background: The Lowland tapir (Tapirus terrestris) is the largest Brazilian mammal and despite being distributed in various Brazilian biomes, it is seriously endangered in the Atlantic Rainforest. These hosts were never evaluated for the presence of Trypanosoma parasites.Methods: The Lowland tapirs were captured in the Brazilian southeastern Atlantic Rainforest, Espirito Santo state. Trypanosomes were isolated by hemoculture, and the molecular phylogeny based on small subunit rDNA (SSU rDNA) and glycosomal-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gGAPDH) gene sequences and the ultrastructural features seen via light microscopy and scanning and transmission electron microscopy are described.Results: Phylogenetic trees using combined SSU rDNA and gGAPDH data sets clustered the trypanosomes of Lowland tapirs, which were highly divergent from other trypanosome species. The phylogenetic position and morphological discontinuities, mainly in epimastigote culture forms, made it possible to classify the trypanosomes from Lowland tapirs as a separate species.Conclusions: The isolated trypanosomes from Tapirus terrestris are a new species, Trypanosoma terrestris sp. n., and were positioned in a new Trypanosoma clade, named T. terrestris clade.