The diversity of the haemosporidian genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon in birds from rain forests in Madagascar is characterized combining techniques of PCR and microscopy and based on the examination of 72 host individuals of 23 species in 15 families. High total prevalence of haemosporidians (68%) is detected, with Leucocytozoon infections being predominant (59.7%) and lower comparable prevalence of Plasmodium (18.0%) and Haemoproteus (23.6%) infections. Using mitochondrial cytochrome b (cytb) marker, 23 genetically distinct lineages are identified: 9 of Plasmodium spp., 6 of Haemoproteus spp. and 8 of Leucocytozoon spp. Fifteen of all lineages have not been reported by previous studies. This study provides the first data on haemosporidian morphological and molecular diversity found in the endemic families Vangidae and Bernieriidae. Two haemoproteid species, Haemoproteus fuscae Mello and Fonseca, 1937 and H. killangoi Bennett and Peirce, 1981, are redescribed based on the present samples and linked to the cytb lineages hCELEC01 and hZOSMAD01, respectively. Phylogenetic analysis is performed to test the relationship of the discovered new lineages with parasites from closely related avian hosts suggesting that multiple colonisation of hosts by haemosporidian parasites has occurred on the island.
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