Haemoproteus spp., with circumnuclear gametocytes and tentatively belonging to Haemoproteus belopolskyi, are widespread and prevalent in warblers belonging to the Sylviidae, with numerous mitochondrial cytochrome b (cyt b) lineages detected among them.We sampled the hemoproteids from 6 species of warblers adjacent to the Baltic Sea. Parasites were identified to species based on morphology of their gametocytes, and a segment of the parasite's cyt b gene was sequenced. Sixteen mitochondrial cyt b lineages of hemoproteids with circumnuclear gametocytes were recorded. Two clades of lineages (clade A in species of Acrocephalus and Hippolais and clade B in species of Sylvia) with sequence divergence between their lineages >5% are distinguished in the phylogenetic tree. Within the clades A and B, the genetic distance between the lineages is ≤3.9 and ≤2.8%, respectively. We compared the morphology of gametocytes of 3 lineages (hHIICT1, hMW1, and hSYAT2) in detail. The lineages hHIICT1 and hMW1 (clade A) belong to the morphospecies H. belopolskyi. Parasites of the lineage hSYAT2 (clade B) are described as a new species Haemoproteus parabelopolskyi, which can be readily distinguished from H. belopolskyi by the significantly smaller nuclei of its macrogametocytes. Lineages closely related to H. belopolskyi and H. parabelopolskyi are identified. The sequence divergence between lineages of these 2 morphospecies ranges between 5.3 and 8.1%. It seems probable that avian Haemoproteus spp. with a genetic differentiation of ≥5% in mitochondrial cyt b gene might be morphologically differentiated at the stage of gametocytes. This study establishes the value of both PCR and morphology in identification of avian hemoproteids.
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