Diversity of Blastocystis subtypes in wild mammals from a zoo and two conservation units in southeastern Brazil
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The enteric protist Blastocystis is one of the most commonly parasite reported in humans and a variety of animal hosts worldwide. Regarding genetic diversity, at least 17 subtypes (STs) have been identified in mammals and birds, with eight of them (ST1-8) infecting both humans and animals. Recently, isolates from wild mammalian species have been genetically characterized, however data is still scarce, mainly in Latin America. Here, we aimed to verify the occurrence and genetic diversity of Blastocystis in captive wild mammals kept in one zoo and in two units of protection and conservation in southeastern Brazil. A total of 78 fecal samples (14 pooled and 64 individual samples) were recovered from 102 wild mammals of 35 species included in the following orders: Primates, Carnivora, Artiodactyla, Pilosa, Rodentia and Marsupialia. Zoo and units staff were invited to participated but only 16 fecal samples could be screened. Based on the sequence analyses of SSUrDNA gene, out of 29 PCR products from animal samples, 51.7% (15/29) were successfully sequenced and five Blastocystis subtypes were identified as follows: ST1 (2/15; 13.3%), ST2 (2/15; 13.3%), ST3 (4/15; 26.6%), ST5 (2/15; 13.3%) and ST8 (5/14; 33.3%). Only four isolates from humans were sequenced and identified as ST1 (2 isolates), ST2 and ST3. It was observed that Blastocystis infecting non-human primates belong to ST1 and ST2 and mainly to ST3 and ST8, artiodactyls ST5, carnivores ST1 and ST5 and rodents ST1. In addition, this present study reports some interesting findings: (1) 63% (12/19) of Blastocystis isolates from animals and employees belonged to the potentially zoonotic subtypes ST1-ST3; (2) most of these isolates displayed high identity with publicly available DNA sequences from non-human primates and humans, including primate handlers; (3) Blastocystis ST5 was found infecting the northern tiger cat, a native South American felid and one of the species facing a high risk of extinction in Brazil.
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