Coccidia (apicomplexa), genetic diversity, and environmental unpredictability of four chromosomal species of the subterranean superspecies Spalax ehrenbergi (mole-rat) in Israel

L. Couch, D. W. Duszynski, E. Nevo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Forty-five mole-rats representing 4 chromosomal species (2n = 52, 54, 58, 60) of the superspecies Spalax ehrenbergi, were collected from 12 localities in Israel in 4 distinct climatic regions. Feces were examined for coccidian oocysts and 41 (91%) were infected; 26 (63%) had multiple infections of up to 5 coccidian species, 4 of which are described here as new species. Sporulated oocysts of Eimeria anzanensis n. sp. were ellipsoidal 18.3 x 12.5 μm(14-22 x 10-16)and had elongate-ovoidal sporocysts 7.3 x 4.9,μm(5-10 x 3-7); it occurred in 39 of 45 (87%) mole-rats, including all chromosomal species. Sporulated oocysts of Eimeria spalacensis n. sp. were ovoidal 23.4 x 18.3 μm (17-29 x 12-21) with ovoidal sporocysts 9.4 x 6.8 μm (6-12 x 4-10); it occurred in 7 of 45 (16%) mole-rats (2n = 54, 58, 60). Sporulated oocysts of Eimeria carmelensis n. sp. were subspheroidal to ellipsoidal 19.1 x 16.5 μm (14-25 x 11-20) and had sporocysts that were spheroidal to ellipsoidal 8.6 x 6.2 μm (6-13 x 4-8); it occurred in 5 of 45 (11%) mole-rats (2n = 58, 60). Sporulated oocysts of Isospora spalacensis n. sp. were ellipsoidal 14.6 x 11.0 μm (12-17 x 9-14) with ellipsoidal to ovoidal sporocysts 8.5 x 4.5 μm (7.5-11 x 4-7); it occurred in 5 of 45 (11%) mole-rats (2n = 58, 60). Twenty-five of 45 (56%) mole-rats (all 4 species) were infected with a previously described form, Eimeria elliptica Sayin, Dincer, and Meric, 1977. The genetic diversity of mole-rats in Israel is known to increase chromosomally (2n = 52 60) and genically (heterozygosity [H] = 0.035 → 0.069) as the environment becomes more demanding (i.e., increasingly warm, dry, and climatically unpredictable). At the same time, there is an increased diversity of coccidian parasites. This suggests correlation among host chromosomal variability, habitat, and increased prevalence of multiple infections, a pattern also seen in other fossorial rodents infected with coccidia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-189
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Parasitology
Volume79
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Parasitology

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