Submitted to: Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/10/2000
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Parasites of the genus Sarcocystis are single celled parasites. They can cause abortion and mortality and reduced weight gain. The North American opossum, Didelphis virginiana is a host for 3 pathogenic species of Sarcocystis: S. falcatula, S. neurona, and S. speeri in the U.S. but little is known of the prevalence of these parasites outside the U.S. Scientists at the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center and University of Sao Paulo Brazil report for the first time occurrence of S. speeri from Brazil and in a new host Didelphis albiventris. These results will be of interest to parasitologists, biologists and wildlife specialists.
Technical Abstract: The North American opossum, Didelphis virginiana, is definitive host for at least three species of Sarcocystis: S. falcatula Stiles 1983, S. neurona Dubey, Davis, Speer, Bowman, de Lahunta, Granstrom, Topper, Hamir, Cummings, Suter 1991, and S. speeri Dubey and Lindsay 1999. In order to identify species of Sarcocystis in the South American opossum, D. marsupialis, Sarcocystis sporocysts from the intestines of a naturally infected opossum (D. marsupialis) from Brazil were fed to 4 gamma- interferon knockout (KO) mice, a nude mouse, and 2 budgerigars (Melopsittacus undulatus) . All 4 KO mice became ill and 1 died 42 days post feeding (DPF) of sporocysts, 1 was killed 44 DPF because of neurologic signs, and 2 were killed 52 and 53 DPF because of abnormal gaits. Numerous sarcocysts were seen in the skeletal muscles of all 4 KO mice and they were structurally identical to S, speeri seen in KO mice fed sporocysts from D. virginiana from the United States and D. albiventris from Argentina. The nude mouse was killed 41 DPF because it appeared weak; schizonts were seen in sections of its liver and sarcocysts were seen in sections of skeletal muscles. Sarcocystis speeri was cultured in bovine turbinate cells inoculated with liver homogenate from this mouse. Sarcocystis neurona was not demonstrable in tissues of mice. The two budgerigars remained asymptomatic and S. falcatula was not found in their tissues when they were killed 29 day PI. This is the first report of S. speeri from D. marsupialis.