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Molecular characterization of cosmopolitan and potentially co-invasive helminths of commensal, murid rodents in Gauteng Province, South Africa

Abstract

Concurrent studies of helminth parasites of introduced and native rodent species are few and miss the opportunity to identify potential co-invasive parasite species. This study employed molecular tools to infer the phylogeny and elucidate the origin of potentially co-invasive parasites of commensal, murid rodents by assessing introduced Rattus norvegicus, Rattus rattus, Rattus tanezumi, and native Mastomys coucha in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Genotypes of Nippostrongylus brasiliensis recovered from R. norvegicus are nearly identical to those recovered from elsewhere in the world. The pinworms, Aspiculurus tetraptera, recovered from introduced R. tanezumi and R. rattus, Syphacia muris recovered from R. tanezumi, and Syphacia obvelata recovered from indigenous M. coucha have affiliations to those recovered of laboratory rodents from the USA and China. Syphacia obvelata was previously only known as a commensal endoparasite of laboratory rodents, and the S. muris genotype recovered from R. tanezumi in this study shows an affiliation to a genotype recovered from the same host species in Indonesia which is part of the native range. The study emphasizes the need for surveillance of potential co-invasive species and contributes in documenting genetic diversity of endoparasites of well-known hosts.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to the volunteers who assisted in the sample collection, Prof C Sole for the guidance on the molecular work, and Ms. A Le Grange for commenting on the manuscript. We also thank the DST/NRF-Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology (CIB) for the financial support and the National Research Foundation (NRF) supported DNA sequencing facility of the University of Pretoria (NRF RISP grant 2001/2012; UID 78566).

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Correspondence to R. S. Julius.

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Julius, R.S., Schwan, E.V. & Chimimba, C.T. Molecular characterization of cosmopolitan and potentially co-invasive helminths of commensal, murid rodents in Gauteng Province, South Africa. Parasitol Res 117, 1729–1736 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-018-5852-4

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Keywords

  • Phylogeography
  • Mastomys coucha
  • Rattus
  • Co-invasive
  • Parasites