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Prevalence, morphology, and molecular characteristics of Sarcocystis spp. in domestic goats (Capra hircus) from Kunming, China


Despite the importance of worldwide goat production, little is known about the prevalence of Sarcocystis spp. in domestic goats (Capra hircus) in China. The aims of the present study were to determine prevalence of Sarcocystis spp. in domestic goats in Kunming, China, as well as to identify parasite species based on morphological characteristics and DNA sequence analysis. Only microscopic sarcocysts of Sarcocystis spp. were detected in 174 of 225 goats (77.3 %). By light and transmission electron microscopy, two species, i.e., Sarcocystis capracanis and Sarcocystis hircicanis, were identified. Two sarcocysts from each of the two species were randomly selected for DNA extraction; the 18S rRNA gene (18S rRNA), the 28S rRNA gene (28S rRNA), and the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (cox1) were amplified by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and subsequently sequenced. The results were compared with other previously sequenced Sarcocystis species retrieved from GenBank. There was little sequence variation between two isolates of the same species. S. capracanis was most closely related with Sarcocystis tenella; 18S rRNA, 28S rRNA, and mitochondrial cox1 sequences shared identities of 95.7–99.1, 95.3, and 92.3–93.2 % with those of S. tenella, respectively. Thus, mitochondrial cox1 sequences seem to perform better than 18S rRNA sequences or 28S rRNA sequences for identification of the two species. S. hircicanis was most closely related to Sarcocystis arieticanis, i.e., 18S rRNA and 28S rRNA sequences of the former species shared 97.2–97.4 and 95.6–96.1 % identities with those of latter, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis inferred from the three genetic markers yielded similar results and indicated the two species were within a group of Sarcocystis species with canines as known, or presumed, definitive hosts.

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Financial support for this study was provided by the Natural Sciences Foundation of China (grant 31460557).

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Correspondence to Jun-Jie Hu.

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Hu, J., Liu, T., Liu, Q. et al. Prevalence, morphology, and molecular characteristics of Sarcocystis spp. in domestic goats (Capra hircus) from Kunming, China. Parasitol Res 115, 3973–3981 (2016).

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  • Goat
  • Sarcocystis
  • Prevalence
  • Molecular characteristics
  • China