Novel avian oropharyngeal trichomonads isolated from European turtle doves (Streptopelia turtur) and racing pigeons (Columba livia): genetic and morphometric characterisation of clonal cultures.
Extensive diversity has been described within the avian oropharyngeal trichomonad complex in recent years. In this study we developed clonal cultures from four isolates selected by their different ITS1/5.8S/ITS2 (ITS) genotype and their association with gross lesions of avian trichomonosis. Isolates were obtained from an adult racing pigeon and a nestling of Eurasian eagle owl with macroscopic lesions, and from a juvenile wood pigeon and an European turtle dove without clinical signs. Multi-locus sequence typing analysis of the ITS, small subunit of ribosomal rRNA (SSUrRNA) and Fe-hydrogenase (Fe-hyd) genes together with a morphological study by optical and scanning electron microscopy was performed. No significant differences in the structures were observed with scanning electron microscopy. However, the genetic characterisation revealed novel sequence types for the SSUrRNA region and Fe-hyd gene. Two clones were identified as Trichomonas gallinae in the MLST analysis, but the clones from the racing pigeon and European turtle dove showed higher similarity with Trichomonas tenax and Trichomonas canistomae than with T. gallinae at their ITS region, respectively. SSUrRNA sequences grouped all the clones in a clade that includes T. gallinae, T. tenax and T. canistomae. Further diversity was detected within the Fe-hyd locus, with a clear separation from T. gallinae of the clones obtained from the racing pigeon and the European turtle dove. In addition, morphometric comparison by optical microscopy with clonal cultures of T. gallinae revealed significant statistical differences on axostyle projection length in the clone from the European turtle dove. Morphometric and genetic data indicate that possible new species within the Trichomonas genus were detected. Taking in consideration the diversity in Trichomonas species present in the oral cavity of birds, a proper genetic analysis is highly recommended when outbreaks occur.