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Coevolutionary patterns and diversification of avian malaria parasites in African sunbirds (Family Nectariniidae)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 October 2014

ELVIN J. LAURON*
Affiliation:
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California 94132, USA
CLAIRE LOISEAU
Affiliation:
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California 94132, USA
RAURI C. K. BOWIE
Affiliation:
Museum of Vertebrate Zoology and Department of Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, California 94720, USA
GREG S. SPICER
Affiliation:
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California 94132, USA
THOMAS B. SMITH
Affiliation:
Center for Tropical Research, University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA
MARTIM MELO
Affiliation:
CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, InBio, Universidade do Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal
RAVINDER N. M. SEHGAL
Affiliation:
Department of Biology, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California 94132, USA
*
* Corresponding author. Department of Biology San Francisco State University, 1600 Holloway Avenue, San Francisco, California 94132, USA. E-mail: elauron@mail.sfsu.edu

Summary

The coevolutionary relationships between avian malaria parasites and their hosts influence the host specificity, geographical distribution and pathogenicity of these parasites. However, to understand fine scale coevolutionary host–parasite relationships, robust and widespread sampling from closely related hosts is needed. We thus sought to explore the coevolutionary history of avian Plasmodium and the widespread African sunbirds, family Nectariniidae. These birds are distributed throughout Africa and occupy a variety of habitats. Considering the role that habitat plays in influencing host-specificity and the role that host-specificity plays in coevolutionary relationships, African sunbirds provide an exceptional model system to study the processes that govern the distribution and diversity of avian malaria. Here we evaluated the coevolutionary histories using a multi-gene phylogeny for Nectariniidae and avian Plasmodium found in Nectariniidae. We then assessed the host–parasite biogeography and the structuring of parasite assemblages. We recovered Plasmodium lineages concurrently in East, West, South and Island regions of Africa. However, several Plasmodium lineages were recovered exclusively within one respective region, despite being found in widely distributed hosts. In addition, we inferred the biogeographic history of these parasites and provide evidence supporting a model of biotic diversification in avian Plasmodium of African sunbirds.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

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Coevolutionary patterns and diversification of avian malaria parasites in African sunbirds (Family Nectariniidae)
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Coevolutionary patterns and diversification of avian malaria parasites in African sunbirds (Family Nectariniidae)
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Coevolutionary patterns and diversification of avian malaria parasites in African sunbirds (Family Nectariniidae)
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