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Malaria parasites are fewer in some tropical birds

Cara J

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Some tropical birds have fewer malaria parasites in their blood than temperate birds, related to longer egg incubation periods, according to new research. In the study, led by University of Missouri-St. Louis biology professor Robert Ricklefs and published in The Auk: Ornithological Advances, researchers used DNA screening to follow up on an earlier literature review of the presence of malaria parasites on blood smears from songbird species in the eastern U.S. and several neotropical countries in the Americas. Over the past 20 or so years, Ricklefs and his colleagues have captured birds in the field and taken blood samples from a vein in their wing. They analyzed these samples to determine the presence of parasites through DNA sequencing. After reviewing the data, they found that a large proportion of all of the birds, including such common backyard species as robins (Turdus migratorius) and cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), were infected with malaria parasites. They also found many genetic lineages of the parasites, some of them spread during bird migration and through human introductions. Overall, 22 percent of individual birds in both temperate and tropical regions had parasite DNA in their blood, but incubation time seemed to have an impact on parasite presence, [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/malaria-parasites-are-fewer-in-some-tropical-birds/

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