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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #384251

Research Project: Detection and Control of Foodborne Parasites for Food Safety

Location: Animal Parasitic Diseases Laboratory

Title: First description of Sarcocystis species infecting Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia)

item DELGADO DE LAS CUEVA, GUILLERMO - Universidad De Extremadura
item PRAKAS, PETRAS - Nature Research Centre
item RUDAITYTE-LUKOSIENE, EGLE - Nature Research Centre
item GARCIA-GIL, MARIA - Spanish National Microscopy Centre
item MARTINEZ-GONZALEZ, MANUEL - Universidad De Extremadura
item BUTKAUSKAS, DALIUS - Nature Research Centre
item Mowery, Joseph
item Dubey, Jitender
item HABELA, MIGUEL - Universidad De Extremadura
item CALERO-BERNAL, RAFAEL - Complutense University Of Madrid (UCM)

Submitted to: Parasitology Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/29/2021
Publication Date: 7/12/2021
Citation: Delgado De Las Cueva, G., Prakas, P., Rudaityte-Lukosiene, E., Garcia-Gil, M., Martinez-Gonzalez, M., Butkauskas, D., Mowery, J.D., Dubey, J.P., Habela, M., Calero-Bernal, R. 2021. First description of Sarcocystis species infecting Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia). Parasitology Research. 2021.

Interpretive Summary: Sarcocystis species are single celled parasites. There are more than 200 species of named species of Sarcocystis. Sarcocystis species have a 2-host lifecycle with herbivores as intermediate hosts and carnivores as definitive hosts. The intermediate host becomes infected by ingesting food or water contaminated with oocysts excreted in feces of carnivores. Some species of Sarcocystis are zoonotic; for examples Sarcocystis hominis with cattle as intermediate hosts and Sarcocystis suihominis with pigs as intermediate hosts. Sarcocystis species are generally considered host-specific, however, recent molecular studies have revealed cast doubt on this assumption. Here, the authors report for the first time Sarcocystis infections in Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia). Morphologically and molecularly, Sarcocystis species in A. lervia resembled those in domestic sheep and goats. These results will be of interest to parasitologists and biologists.

Technical Abstract: Barbary sheep (Ammotragus lervia) is a North African native wild Caprinae, introduced in the 70´s in new territories such as Spain, USA, and Mexico. Here, we describe Sarcocystis species in Barbary sheep. Sarcocysts were found in 19 out of 56 adult A. lervia in Southern Spain and characterized morphologically and molecularly. By light microscopy, sarcocysts had thin or thick walls. By transmission electron microscopy, sarcocysts with thick walls had Type 14 villar protrusions corresponding to S. tenella/S. capracanis of domestic sheep (Ovis aries) or goats (Capra hircus). Sarcocysts with thin walls had Type 7b villar protrusions that corresponded to S. arieticanis/S. hircicanis of domestic sheep or goats. Molecular analyses allowed the identification of only thick-walled Sarcocystis species. Six sarcocysts were assigned to S. tenella (99.2–100% and 95.6–100% sequence similarity within 18S rRNA and COI, respectively) and 19 sarcocysts were assigned to S. capracanis (98.5–99.8% and 97.9–99.0% sequence similarity within 18S rRNA and COI, respectively). Further studies are needed for taxonomic identification of sarcocysts in Barbary sheep because Sarcocystis species in sheep and goats are not transmissible despite morphological similarities.