Multilocus Analysis Resolves the European Finch Epidemic Strain of Trichomonas gallinae and Suggests Introgression from Divergent Trichomonads

Abstract In Europe, Trichomonas gallinae recently emerged as a cause of epidemic disease in songbirds. A clonal strain of the parasite, first found in the United Kingdom, has become the predominant strain there and spread to continental Europe. Discriminating this epidemic strain of T. gallinae from other strains necessitated development of multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Development of the MLST was facilitated by the assembly and annotation of a 54.7 Mb draft genome of a cloned stabilate of the A1 European finch epidemic strain (isolated from Greenfinch, Chloris chloris, XT-1081/07 in 2007) containing 21,924 protein coding genes. This enabled construction of a robust 19 locus MLST based on existing typing loci for Trichomonas vaginalis and T. gallinae. Our MLST has the sensitivity to discriminate strains within existing genotypes confidently, and resolves the American finch A1 genotype from the European finch epidemic A1 genotype. Interestingly, one isolate we obtained from a captive black-naped fruit dove Ptilinopsus melanospilus, was not truly T. gallinae but a hybrid of T. gallinae with a distant trichomonad lineage. Phylogenetic analysis of the individual loci in this fruit dove provides evidence of gene flow between distant trichomonad lineages at 2 of the 19 loci examined and may provide precedence for the emergence of other hybrid trichomonad genomes including T. vaginalis.

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DOI 10.1093/gbe/evz164
Date Last Updated 2019-09-04T10:33:29.562000
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Funder code(s) King Saud University (); Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (); Animal & Plant Health Agency’s Diseases of Wildlife Scheme Scanning Surveillance Programme (); Esmée Fairbairn Foundation and the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare ()
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