Detection and prevalence of Haemoproteus archilochus (Haemosporida, Haemoproteidae) in two species of California hummingbirds

A. C. Bradshaw, Lisa A Tell, Holly B Ernest, S. Bahan, J. Carlson, R. N.M. Sehgal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Haemosporidian blood parasites are transmitted to a wide range of avian hosts via blood-sucking dipteran vectors. Microscopy has revealed an impressive diversity of avian haemosporidia with more than 250 species described. Moreover, PCR and subsequent sequence analyses have suggested a much greater diversity of haemosporidia than morphological analyses alone. Given the importance of these parasites, very few studies have focused on the charismatic hummingbirds. To date, three Haemoproteus species (Haemoproteus archilochus, Haemoproteus trochili, and Haemoproteus witti) and one Leucocytozoon species (Leucocytozoon quynzae) have been described in blood samples taken from hummingbirds (Trochilidae). Unconfirmed Plasmodium lineages have also been detected in hummingbirds. Here, we report the detection of H. archilochus in two hummingbird species (Calypte anna and Archilochus alexandri) sampled in Northern California and perform a phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial cytochrome b (cyt b) gene lineages. A total of 261 hummingbirds (157 C. anna, 104 A. alexandri) were sampled and screened for blood parasites using PCR and microscopy techniques. Combining both methods, 4 (2.55%) haemosporidian infections were detected in C. anna and 18 (17.31%) haemosporidian infections were detected in A. alexandri. Molecular analyses revealed four distinct H. archilocus cyt b lineages, which clustered as a monophyletic clade. No species of Plasmodium or Leucocytozoon were detected in this study, raising the possibility of specific vector associations with hummingbirds. These results provide resources for future studies of haemosporidian prevalence, diversity, and pathogenicity in California hummingbird populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1879-1885
Number of pages7
JournalParasitology Research
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2017


  • Avian blood parasites
  • California
  • Diversity
  • Haemoproteus archilochus
  • Hummingbirds
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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