Peripheral blood from a ball python (Python reginus) imported from Ghana was cultured in Barbour-Stoenner-Kelly (BSK) medium for Borrelia spp. isolation, resulting in the prominent appearance of free, and clusters of, trypanosomes in a variety of morphological forms. The molecular phylogenetic characterization of these cultured trypanosomes, using the small subunit rDNA, indicated that this python was infected with a species closely related to Trypanosoma varani Wenyon, 1908, originally described in the Nile monitor lizard (Varanus niloticus) from Sudan. Furthermore, nucleotide sequences of glycosomal glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase gene of both isolates showed few differences. Giemsa-stained blood smears, prepared from the infected python 8 mo after the initial observation of trypanosomes in hemoculture, contained trypomastigotes with a broad body and a short, free flagellum; these most closely resembled the original description of T. varani, or T. voltariae Macfie, 1919 recorded in a black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis) from Ghana. It is highly possible that lizards and snakes could naturally share an identical trypanosome species. Alternatively, lizards and snakes in the same region might have closely related, but distinct, Trypanosoma species as a result of sympatric speciation. From multiple viewpoints, including molecular phylogenetic analyses, reappraisal of trypanosome species from a wide range of reptiles in Africa is needed to clarify the relationship of recorded species, or to unmask unrecorded species.
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