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Infect Genet Evol. 2012 Jan;12(1):127-36. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2011.10.024. Epub 2011 Nov 17.

Profound population structure in the Philippine Bulbul Hypsipetes philippinus (Pycnonotidae, Aves) is not reflected in its Haemoproteus haemosporidian parasite.

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Unit of Evolutionary Biology/Systematic Zoology, Institute of Biochemistry and Biology, University of Potsdam, Karl-Liebknecht-Strasse 24-25, Haus 25, D-14476 Potsdam, Germany.


In this study we used molecular markers to screen for the occurrence and prevalence of the three most common haemosporidian genera (Haemoproteus, Plasmodium, and Leucocytozoon) in blood samples of the Philippine Bulbul (Hypsipetes philippinus), a thrush-size passerine bird endemic to the Philippine Archipelago. We then used molecular data to ask whether the phylogeographic patterns in this insular host-parasite system might follow similar evolutionary trajectories or not. We took advantage of a previous study describing the pattern of genetic structuring in the Philippine Bulbul across the Central Philippine Archipelago (6 islands, 7 populations and 58 individuals; three mitochondrial DNA genes). The very same birds were here screened for the occurrence of parasites by species-specific PCR assays of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene (471 base pairs). Twenty-eight out of the 58 analysed birds had Haemoproteus (48%) infections while just 2% of the birds were infected with either Leucocytozoon or Plasmodium. Sixteen of the 28 birds carrying Haemoproteus had multiple infections. The phylogeography of the Philippine Bulbul mostly reflects the geographical origin of samples and it is consistent with the occurrence of two different subspecies on (1) Semirara and (2) Carabao, Boracay, North Gigante, Panay, and Negros, respectively. Haemoproteus phylogeography shows very little geographical structure, suggesting extensive gene flow among locations. While movements of birds among islands seem very sporadic, we found co-occurring evolutionary divergent parasite lineages. We conclude that historical processes have played a major role in shaping the host phylogeography, while they have left no signature in that of the parasites. Here ongoing population processes, possibly multiple reinvasions mediated by other hosts, are predominant.

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