Sarcocystis Strixi N. Sp From a Barred Owl (Strix varia) Definitive Host and Interferon Gamma Gene Knockout Mice as Experimental Intermediate Host


Here we report a new species of Sarcocystis with a barred owl (Strix varia) as the natural definitive host and interferon gamma gene knockout (KO) mice as an experimental intermediate host. A barred owl submitted to the Carolina Raptor Center, Huntersville, North Carolina, was euthanized because of paralysis. Fully sporulated 12.539.9 lm sporocysts were found in intestinal scrapings from the owl. Sporocysts from the barred owl were orally fed to 4 laboratory-reared outbred Swiss Webster (SW) (Mus musculus) and 8 KO mice. All mice remained asymptomatic. Microscopic sarcocysts were found in all 5 KO mice euthanized on day 32, 59, 120, 154, and 206 post- inoculation (PI), not in KO mice euthanized on day 4, 8, and 14 PI. Sarcocysts were not found in any SW mice euthanized on day 72, 120, 206, and 210 PI. Sarcocysts were microscopic, up to 70 lm wide. By light microscopy, the sarcocyst wall, 2 lm thick had undulating, flat to conical, protrusions of varying dimensions. Numerous sarcocysts were seen in the histological sections of tongue and skeletal muscles from the abdomen, limbs, and eye but not in the heart. By transmission electron microscopy, the sarcocyst wall was "type 1j.'' The ground substance layer (gs) was homogenous, up to 2 lm thick, with very fine granules, and a few vesicles concentrated toward the villar projections. No microtubules were seen in the gs. Longitudinally cut bradyzoites at 206 days PI were 7.8 3 2.2 lm. Based on molecular characterization using 18S rRNA, 28S rRNA, and cox1 genes and morphology of sarcocysts, the parasite in the present study was biologically and structurally different from species so far described, and we therefore propose a new species name, Sarcocystis strixi n. sp.