Parasitology

Research Article

Vertical transmission of Toxoplasma gondii in Australian marsupials

N. PARAMESWARANa1 c1, R. M. O'HANDLEYa2, M. E. GRIGGa3, A. WAYNEa4 and R. C. A. THOMPSONa1

a1 WHO Collaborating Centre for the Molecular Epidemiology of Parasitic Infections, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia

a2 Environmental Biotechnology CRC, Murdoch University, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia

a3 Molecular Parasitology Unit, Laboratory of Parasitic Diseases, National Institutes of Health, NIAID, 4 Center Drive, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

a4 Department of Environment and Conservation, Manjimup, WA 6258, Australia

SUMMARY

To date, little is known about the dynamics of vertical transmission of Toxoplasma gondii in Australian marsupials. Studies in mice demonstrate that vertical transmission of T. gondii is common and that chronically infected mice can transmit T. gondii to successive generations. In this study, PCR and immunohistochemistry were used to detect T. gondii in chronically infected marsupial dams and their offspring. T. gondii was detected in the unfurred pouch young of 2 out of 10 chronically infected western grey kangaroos (Macropus fuliginosus) and in the unfurred pouch young of a brush-tailed bettong (Bettongia penicillata). Results of the study suggest that vertical transmission of T. gondii can occur in chronically infected Australian marsupials.

(Received December 23 2008)

(Revised April 22 2009)

(Accepted April 23 2009)

(Online publication June 24 2009)

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: WHO Collaborating Centre for the Molecular Epidemiology of Parasitic Infections, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Murdoch WA 6150, Australia. Tel: +61 893602690. Fax: +61 893104144. E-mail: nevi.parameswaran@gmail.com

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