Comparison of mitochondrial cytochrome b lineages and morphospecies of two avian malaria parasites of the subgenera Haemamoeba and Giovannolaia (Haemosporida : Plasmodiidae)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


PCR-based methods have been increasingly used in diagnosis of parasitic diseases. Over 40 morphospecies of avian malaria parasites of the genus Plasmodium have been described. However, only nine of them have been identified on the level of their mitochondrial cytochrome b (cyt b) gene lineages, which are frequently used in molecular biology studies of avian blood haemosporidian parasites. In this study, we linked two common mitochondrial cyt b lineages P-SGS1 and P-TURDUS1 with their morphospecies. Light infections with two species of malaria parasites of the subgenera Haemamoeba and Giovannolaia were isolated from naturally infected adult Hawfinches, Coccothraustes coccothraustes Linnaeus, on the Curonian Spit in the Baltic Sea. These parasites were inoculated to naive juveniles of the Common Crossbill, Loxia curvirostra Linnaeus, and House Sparrow, Passer domesticus Linnaeus. Heavy parasitemia of Plasmodium (Haemamoeba) relictum Grassi & Feletti, 1891 ( lineage P-SGS1) and Plasmodium (Giovannolaia) circumflexum Kikuth, 1931 (P-TURDUS1) developed in the subinoculated Common Crossbills and House Sparrows, respectively, which enabled the detailed illustration of all main blood stages of these parasites and the deposition of their voucher specimens. The parasites of both lineages are actively transmitted in Europe and inhabit a broad range of avian hosts. Lineages closely related to P. relictum and P. circumflexum were identified. This study contributes to establishing of combined PCR-based and morphological identification of avian malaria parasites.


  • Vaidas Palinauskas
  • Vlad Kosarev
  • Anatoly Shapoval
  • Staffan Bensch
  • Gediminas Valkiunas
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biological Sciences


  • plasmodium circumflexum, avian malaria, phylogeny, plasmodium relictum, PCR, microscopy
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-50
Issue number1626
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch