The use of molecular methods in studies of avian haemosporidians

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During the last two decades, molecular methods to study mitochondrial DNA sequence variation have become an important part in the studies of avian haemosporidians. Up until recently, these methods have primarily been used for identification of the parasites and for tentative phylogenetic reconstructions, allowing researchers not trained in traditional parasitology to compare data across the globe. However, with the introduction of genome and transcriptome sequencing, studies are emerging that go deeper into the genetics and molecular biology of the parasites. In this chapter, we describe and summarize the common methods used for genetic barcoding of the parasites and give an introduction of what to take into account when designing a molecular study of avian haemosporidians. This chapter further discusses why nuclear genetic data are needed in order to answer several important ecological and evolutionary questions and which methods to use in order to overcome the obstacles of obtaining nuclear data of the parasites. Finally, this chapter highlights the challenges and opportunities that come with the use of molecular methods, such as how to study and interpret prevalence, the challenge of aborted developments, and how to obtain data for more robust phylogenies and population structure studies of the parasites.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAvian Malaria and Related Parasites in the Tropics
Subtitle of host publicationEcology, Evolution and Systematics
EditorsDiego Santiago-Alarcon, Alfonso Marzal
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-030-51633-8
ISBN (Print)978-3-030-51632-1
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Bioinformatics and Systems Biology


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