Haemosporidian parasites are protozoans that infect many different vertebrate hosts. Re-examination of the diversity of haemosporidian parasites, using molecular tools, has generally led to rearrangements of traditional classifications. In this study, we explored the diversity of haemosporidian parasites infecting some species of reptile and birds living in the forests of Gabon, Central Africa, by analyzing a collection of 128 samples of reptiles and birds. We found that samples from 2 tortoise species (Pelusios castaneus and Kinixys erosa) and 3 bird species (Turtur afer, Ceratogymna atrata, and Agelastes niger) were infected by Haemocystidium spp. and Parahaemoproteus spp., respectively. From an ecological point of view, these lineages of parasites do not show host specificity because we have found them in several host species (2 tortoise and 3 bird species) that come from different areas of Gabon forest which are infected with these parasites. Also, our phylogenetic analyses revealed that the obtained lineages are related to isolates from other continents found in the same groups of vertebrates. Thus, our results show that haemosporidian parasites are also infecting central African vertebrates and that new lineages of these parasites are circulating in wild animals of the Gabon forest.
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Vol. 103 • No. 4