Karyolysus and Schellackia - blood Apicomplexan parasites infecting some European lizards

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ISBN: 978-80-970712-8-8

Karyolysus and Schellackia - blood Apicomplexan parasites infecting some European lizards

Božena Kočíková1 , Adriana Hižňanová2 , Igor Majláth2 , Karol Račka3 , David James Harris4 , Gábor Földvári5 , Piotr Tryjanowski6 , Natália Kokošová2 , Viktória Majláthová1
1 Institute of Parasitology SAS, Hlinkova 3, 040 01 Košice, SR
2 Institute of Biology and Ecology, University of P. J. Šafárik in Košice, Moyzesova 11, 040 01 Košice, SR
3 Department of Parasitology, State Veterinary Institute Jihlava, Rantířovská 93, 586 05 Jihlava, Czech Republic
4 CI-BIO-UP, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursors Genéticos da Universidade do Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
5 Department of Parasitology and Zoology, Faculty of Veterinary Science, Szent István University, 2 István Street, Budapest H-1078, Hungary
6 Institute of Zoology, Poznań University of Life Sciences, Wojska Polskiego 71 C, 60-625 Poznań, Poland

The blood parasites of genus Karyolysus Labbé, 1894 and Schellackia Reichenow, 1919 represent haemogregarine parasites found in various lizards families (e.g. Agamidae, Gekkonidae, Lacertidae and Scincidae). We examined 608 individuals of reptiles from six different localities in Europe (Greece, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden) using both, microscopic and molecular methods. In this study we examined and assessed phylogenetic relationships of all isolates of these blood parasites for the first time. A total of 460 blood smears were examined, from which protozoan parasites were found in 63 samples (12.2%). Based on morphology, we observed two species of Karyolysus: K. latus and K. lacazei. In total, of 538 samples from 15 reptile species and 4 subspecies tested by polymerase chain reaction (PCR), the presence of parasites were observed in 63 individuals (11.7%). We also obtained sequences of Karyolysus sp. from ectoparasites (Ixodes ricinus ticks and Ophionyssus saurarum) collected from reptiles. Contrary, all 133 snakes from Europe belonging to six genera (Natrix, Zamenis, Coronella, Coluber, Dolichophis and Vipera) were infection-free. Smears of Ophionyssus mites collected from lizards contained several free gametocytes liberated from erythrocytes after bloodsucking, and moreover sporokinetes were also found in the smear preparations from the mite eggs. Comparison of the eight Karyolysus sp. isolates revealed the existence of four haplotypes, all part of the same lineage within sequences of parasites identified as belonging to the genus Hepatozoon sp. Schellackia sp. was the only blood parasite observed in Lacerta viridis from Slovakia (Zádiel). Phylogenetic analysis revealed relatedness of isolate obtained in this study with Schellackia – like parasites derived from lizard species captured in Spain.


The study was supported by the project of Research & Development Operational Programme funded by the ERDF (code ITMS: 26220220116) (0,5) and by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education of Slovak Republic and the Slovak Academy of Sciences VEGA 1/0417/14. This study was conducted under the frame of the EurNegVec COST Action TD1303.