To further investigate the recently described avian piroplasm, Babesia kiwiensis, blood samples were collected from 13 wild-caught and 8 zoo-captive brown kiwi (Apteryx mantelli) and screened for the presence of piroplasm DNA using a nested-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting the 18S rRNA gene of most members of Piroplasmida. All captive birds gave a negative PCR result, while 12 wild-caught birds were PCR positive. The nearly full-length 18S rRNA gene for B. kiwiensis was sequenced. Upon phylogenetic analysis, it was found to belong to the babesid group of piroplasms and was ancestral, yet genetically similar, to the Babesia canis-related species. An insight into the current taxonomy of the avian piroplasms is also given. An Ixodes anatis tick collected from 1 of the North Island brown kiwi was also screened using PCR and was found to be positive for B. kiwiensis DNA.
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