Two recently sequenced vertebrate genomes are contaminated with apicomplexan species of the Sarcocystidae family

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This paper highlights a general problem, namely that host genome sequences can easily be contaminated with parasite sequences, thus careful isolation of genetic material and careful bioinformatics analysis are needed in all cases. Two recently published genomes are shown here to be contaminated with sequences of apicomplexan parasites which belong to the Sarcocystidae family. Sequences of the characteristic apicomplexan organelle, the apicoplast, were used as queries in BLASTN searches against nucleotide sequences of various animal groups looking for possible contamination. Draft genomes of a bird, Colinus virginianus (Halley et al., 2014), and a bat, Myotis davidii (Zhang et al., 2013) were found to contain at least six and 17 contigs, respectively, originating from the apicoplast of an apicomplexan species, and other genes specific to this phylum can also be found in the published genomes. Obviously, the sources of the genetic material, the muscle and the kidney of the animals, respectively, contained the parasitic cysts. Phylogenetic analyses using 18S rRNA and internal transcribed spacer 1 genes show that the parasite contaminating C. virginianus is a species of Sarcocystis related to ones known to cycle between avian and mammalian hosts. In the case of M. davidii it belongs to the Nephroisospora genus, the only member of which, Nephroisospora eptesici, has been recently identified from the kidney of big brown bats (Eptesicus fuscus).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)871-878
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 2015



  • Apicomplexa
  • Apicoplast
  • Apicortin
  • Bat
  • Host
  • Nephroisospora
  • Phylogenetic tree
  • Sarcocystis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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