Fecal samples from wild-caught common voles (n = 328) from 16 locations in the Czech Republic were screened for Cryptosporidium by microscopy and PCR/sequencing at loci coding small-subunit rRNA, Cryptosporidium oocyst wall protein, actin and 70 kDa heat shock protein. Cryptosporidium infections were detected in 74 voles (22.6%). Rates of infection did not differ between males and females nor between juveniles and adults. Phylogenetic analysis revealed the presence of eight Cryptosporidium species/genotypes including two new species, C. alticolis and C. microti. These species from wild-caught common voles were able to infect common and meadow voles under experimental conditions, with a prepatent period of 3-5 days post-infection (DPI), but they were not infectious for various other rodents or chickens. Meadow voles lost infection earlier than common voles (11-14 vs 13-16 DPI) and had significantly lower infection intensity. Cryptosporidium alticolis infects the anterior small intestine and has larger oocysts (5.4 × 4.9 μm), whereas C. microti infects the large intestine and has smaller oocysts (4.3 × 4.1 m). None of the rodents developed clinical signs of infection. Genetic and biological data support the establishment of C. alticolis and C. microti as separate species of the genus Cryptosporidium.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic (LTAUSA17165), the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (1R15AI122152-01A1), Grant Agency of University of South Bohemia (098/2016/Z and 002/2016/Z) and supported by MEYS CR (LM2015062 Czech-BioImaging). We thank Annaliese Beery, Jennifer Christensen, Nancy Owen and Karen Swiecanski of Smith College for providing meadow voles and for assistance with transporting voles to North Dakota State University for the study.
- Experimental infection
- molecular analyses
- oocyst size