Using microscopy and PCR, we determined the prevalence of blood parasites in village chickens in Uganda and Cameroon. Of 148 individuals tested, 18.3% were infected with Leucocytozoon schoutedeni (Haemosporida, Leucocytozoidae) and 4.1% were infected with Trypanosoma gallinarum (Kinetoplastida, Trypanosomatidae). No other blood parasites were detected. Subsequent phylogenetic analysis of the cytochrome b gene of L. schoutedeni identified 2 distinct lineages that were found at all 3 sampling locations in Uganda. The sequence divergence between these 2 lineages is 1.5%. One of these lineages was also found in chickens in Cameroon, nearly 2,000 km distant. There are no morphological differences between blood stages of the parasites represented by the 2 different lineages, suggesting that cytochrome b gene sequence divergence can be as high as 1.5% within a single well-defined morphospecies of Leucocytozoon. We sequenced a portion of the small subunit ribosomal RNA gene (SSU rRNA) of T. gallinarum, and redescribe T. gallinarum for the first time since its discovery in 1911. These are the first assignments of DNA sequence data to these morphospecies of Leucocytozoon and Trypanosoma and may represent an example of intraspecific sequence divergence.
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