A Case of Prototheca zopfii Genotype 1 Infection in a Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

Caroline S. Silveira, Deborah Cesar, M. Kelly Keating, Marlene DeLeon-Carnes, Aníbal G. Armién, Martín Luhers, Franklin Riet-Correa, Federico Giannitti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Protothecosis is a rare disease caused by environmental algae of the genus Prototheca. These are saprophytic, non-photosynthetic, aerobic, colorless algae that belong to the Chlorellaceae family. Seven different species have been described. Prototheca zopfii genotype 2 and P. wickerhamii are most commonly involved in pathogenic infections in humans and animals. The objective of this work is to describe, for the first time, a case of protothecosis caused by P. zopfii genotype 1 in a dog. The dog, a 4-year-old mix bred male, was presented to a veterinary clinic in Montevideo, Uruguay, with multiple skin nodules, one of which was excised by surgical biopsy. The sample was examined histologically and processed by PCR, DNA sequencing, and restriction fragments length polymorphisms for the detection and genotyping of P. zopfii. In addition, transmission electron microscopy and scanning electron microscopy were performed. Histology showed severe ulcerative granulomatous dermatitis and panniculitis with myriads of pleomorphic algae. Algal cells were 4–17 µm in size, with an amphophilic, 2–4-µm-thick wall frequently surrounded by a clear halo, contained flocculant material and a deeply basophilic nucleus, and internal septae with daughter cells (endospores) consistent with endosporulation. Ultrastructurally, algal cells/endospores at different stages of development were found within parasitophorous vacuoles in macrophages. Prototheca zopfii genotype 1 was identified by molecular testing, confirming the etiologic diagnosis of protothecosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)853-858
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Yisell Perdomo from the ?Instituto Nacional de Investigaci?n Agropecuaria? (INIA, Uruguay), Jan Shivers and Dean Muldoon from the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (USA), and Dominique Rollin from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for technical assistance. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the CDC. The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature.

Copyright 2018 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Algal diseases
  • Algal infection
  • Dog
  • Genotypic characterization
  • Protothecosis
  • South America


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