Molecular characterization and identification of Hepatozoon species Miller, 1908 (Apicomplexa: Adeleina: Hepatozoidae) in captive snakes from Brazil

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Úngari, Letícia Pereira [UNESP]
Santos, André Luiz Quagliatto
O’Dwyer, Lucia Helena [UNESP]
da Silva, Maria Regina Lucas [UNESP]
Rodrigues Santos, Thais Carneiro
da Cunha, Maria Júlia Rodrigues
de Melo Costa Pinto, Rogério
Cury, Márcia Cristina

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Species of Hepatozoon are parasites frequently recorded in snakes. The species identification of this genus was based mostly on the gametocyte morphology and morphometric calculations. For more reliable results, molecular characterization, an initial step for the correct identification of Hepatozoon species, has been used. This study aimed to determine the prevalence and identification of Hepatozoon species in captive snakes from Brazil. To that end, morphological, morphometric, and molecular data were obtained. A total of 157 snakes; 128 venomous (Crotalus durissus) and 29 non-venomous (Epicrates crassus and Boa constrictor) were screened for Hepatozoon blood parasites. Using light microscopy, 20 (12.78%) snakes were found positive for Hepatozoon spp., of which 6/29 (20.7%) were non-venomous and 14/128 (10.9%) were venomous; all with low parasitemia. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR), performed with the primers HepF300/Hep900, confirmed all 20 (100%) samples positive for hemogregarines. Species of Hepatozoon were identified from eight sequenced samples. Two previously described species, Hepatozoon cuestensis and Hepatozoon musa, were identified. The present study is the first to report H. musa within the snake hosts E. crassus and C. durrisus. In addition, a potentially new Hepatozoon species from B. constrictor was identified.



Hepatozoon spp, Non-venomous, PCR, Snakes, Venomous

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Parasitology Research, v. 117, n. 12, p. 3857-3865, 2018.