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Int J Parasitol. 2013 Sep;43(10):805-17. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2013.04.007. Epub 2013 Jun 18.

Coevolution of Cryptosporidium tyzzeri and the house mouse (Mus musculus).

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Institute of Parasitology, Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, České Budějovice, Czech Republic.


Two house mouse subspecies occur in Europe, eastern and northern Mus musculus musculus (Mmm) and western and southern Mus musculus domesticus (Mmd). A secondary hybrid zone occurs where their ranges meet, running from Scandinavia to the Black Sea. In this paper, we tested a hypothesis that the apicomplexan protozoan species Cryptosporidium tyzzeri has coevolved with the house mouse. More specifically, we assessed to what extent the evolution of this parasite mirrors divergence of the two subspecies. In order to test this hypothesis, we analysed sequence variation at five genes (ssrRNA, Cryptosporidium oocyst wall protein (COWP), thrombospondin-related adhesive protein of Cryptosporidium 1 (TRAP-C1), actin and gp60) in C. tyzzeri isolates from Mmd and Mmm sampled along a transect across the hybrid zone from the Czech Republic to Germany. Mmd samples were supplemented with mice from New Zealand. We found two distinct isolates of C. tyzzeri, each occurring exclusively in one of the mouse subspecies (C. tyzzeri-Mmm and C. tyzzeri-Mmd). In addition to genetic differentiation, oocysts of the C. tyzzeri-Mmd subtype (mean: 4.24×3.69μm) were significantly smaller than oocysts of C. tyzzeri-Mmm (mean: 4.49×3.90 μm). Mmm and Mmd were susceptible to experimental infection with both C. tyzzeri subtypes; however, the subtypes were not infective for the rodent species Meriones unguiculatus, Mastomys coucha, Apodemus flavicollis or Cavia porcellus. Overall, our results support the hypothesis that C. tyzzeri is coevolving with Mmm and Mmd.


Coevolution; Cryptosporidium tyzzeri; House mouse; Hybrid zone; Mus musculus domesticus; Mus musculus musculus

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