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Mol Ecol Resour. 2009 Sep;9(5):1353-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1755-0998.2009.02692.x. Epub 2009 Apr 9.

MalAvi: a public database of malaria parasites and related haemosporidians in avian hosts based on mitochondrial cytochrome b lineages.

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Department of Ecology, Lund University, Ecology Building, S-22362 Lund, Sweden Department of Zoology, The Edward Grey Institute, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, 28040 Madrid, Spain.


Research in avian blood parasites has seen a remarkable increase since the introduction of polymerase chain reaction-based methods for parasite identification. New data are revealing complex multihost-multiparasite systems which are difficult to understand without good knowledge of the host range and geographical distribution of the parasite lineages. However, such information is currently difficult to obtain from the literature, or from general repositories such as GenBank, mainly because (i) different research groups use different parasite lineage names, (ii) GenBank entries frequently refer only to the first host and locality at which each parasite was sampled, and (iii) different researchers use different gene fragments to identify parasite lineages. We propose a unified database of avian blood parasites of the genera Plasmodium, Haemoproteus and Leucocytozoon identified by a partial region of their cytochrome b sequences. The database uses a standardized nomenclature to remove synonymy, and concentrates all available information about each parasite in a public reference site, thereby facilitating access to all researchers. Initial data include a list of host species and localities, as well as genetic markers that can be used for phylogenetical analyses. The database is free to download and will be regularly updated by the authors. Prior to publication of new lineages, we encourage researchers to assign names to match the existing database. We anticipate that the value of the database as a source for determining host range and geographical distribution of the parasites will grow with its size and substantially enhance the understanding of this remarkably diverse group of parasites.

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