Investigations into diversity of genus Sarcocystis parasites from Cervidae and cattle

Projects leader: dr. Petras Prakas

Terms of the project: 2017–2020

The purpose of the project is to estimate the distribution and species diversity of genus Sarcocystis parasites (Apicomplexa: Sarcocystidae) in Lithuanian Cervidae and cattle. Some Sarcocystis species are pathogenic to humans as well as to domestic and wild animals. Humans can get infected with Sarcocystis parasites when they consume undercooked beef or bacon meat; however, we cannot reject a possibility that infection from Carvidae meat is also possible. The species composition, distribution, host specificity and intra-specific diversity of Sarcocystis parasites in Cervidae have not been investigated in detail. The rate of cattle infestation with Sarcocystis cysts is recorded to be high (~90%) in Lithuania; however, species diversity of parasites from cattle has not been investigated in Lithuania so far. The projected morphological and molecular investigations will allow comparing the parameters of Sarcocystis infection in roe deer, red deer and elk naturally distributed in Lithuania with Sarcocystis infection in sika deer and fallow deer raised in farms; phylogenetic affiliation of Sarcocystis spp. detected in Cervidae with species pathogenic to humans will be examined; the species new to science will be described; new data about species composition, distribution, abundance and intermediate host specificity of Sarcocystis parasites from Cervidae will be collected; regularities of intra-specific genetic variability will be developed; attempts will be made to develop a relatively cheap, quick, accurate and molecular-investigation-based method for identification of Sarcocystis  species in cattle meat; as well as species distribution of these parasites in Lithuanian cattle will be evaluated.

Investigations into genus Sarcocystis parasites from birds order Anseriformes

Projects leader: dr. Petras Prakas

Terms of the project: 2013–2015