bronze grackle

Plasmodium species infecting birds

Species in five subgenera of Plasmodium infect birds - Bennettinia, Giovannolaia, Haemamoeba, Huffia and Novyella. Giovannolaia appears to be a polyphytic group and may be sudivided in the future.

Parasite listing

Species infecting birds include: P. accipiteris, P. alloelongatum, P. anasum, P. ashfordi, P. bambusicolai, P. bigueti, P. biziurae, P. buteonis, P. cathemerium, P. circumflexum, P. coggeshalli, P. corradettii, P. coturnix, P. dissanaikei, P. durae, P. elongatum, P. fallax, P forresteri, P. gabaldoni, P. gallinacium, P. garnhami, P. giovannolai, P. globularis, P. griffithsi, P. gundersi, P. guangdong, P. hegneri, P. hermani, P. hexamerium, P. huffi, P. jiangi, P. juxtanucleare, P. kempi, P. lophurae, P.lutzi, P. matutinum, P. megaglobularis, P. nucleophilum, P. papernai, P. paranucleophilum, P. parvulum, P. pediocetti, P. paddae, P. pinotti, P. polare, P. relictum, P. rouxi, P. tenue, P. tejerai, P. tumbayaensis and P. vaughani.

Avian host records

  • P. paranucleophilum - South American tanager

  • P. parvulum - vanga species

Subspecies of avian malaria

  • P. relictum has been divded into subspecies: P. relictum capistranoae, P. relicturn matutinum and P. relictum relictum.

  • P. nucleophilum has at least one subspecies - P. nucleophilum toucani


  • P. durae is related to P. asanum, P. circumflexum, P. fallax, P. formosanum, P. gabaldoni, P. hegneri, P. lophrae, P. lophrae, P. pediocetti, P. pinotti, and P. polare.

  • P. gallinacium is related to P. griffithsi

  • P. relictum is related to P. cathemerium, P. giovannolai and P. matutinum. P. relictum may be difficult to distinguish from P. giovannolai on either morphological grounds or on the basis of host species.

  • P. hexamerium is related to P. vaughni.

  • P. ashfordi is related to P. vaughni.

Vectors of avian malaria

Avian malaria notes

  • P. relictum is known to infect over 70 bird families and 359 wild bird species so the record here should be regarded as incomplete. Additional host species can be found under the link Plasmodium relictum. It is likely that this species has been responsible for more bird extinctions than any other protist.

  • P. vaughani is the second commonest species of avian malaria parasites after P. relictum.

  • P. inconstans, P. irae, P. praecox, P. subpraecox and P. wasielewski have been re classified as P. relictum. P. subpraecox was described by Grassi and Feletti in 1892. P. wasielewski was described by Brumpt in 1909.

  • P. elongatum infects 21 bird families and 59 species of bird. Additional host species are given under the link Plasmodium elongatum.

  • P. dominicana is species known only from fossil amber. It is thought to have been a species infecting birds. It has been placed in the subgenus Nyssorhynchus.

  • The taxonomic status of P. corradettii (Laird, 1998) is currently regarded as dubious and may be revised.

  • P. huffi may be the same species as P. nucleophilum toucani.

  • P. oti is now regarded as the same species as P. hexamerium.

  • There are currently 13 species recognised in the subgenus Novyella all of which are listed here.

A number of additional species have been described in birds - P. centropi, P. chloropsidis, P. gallinuae, P. herodialis, P. heroni, P. mornony, P. pericorcoti and P. ploceii - but the suggested speciation was based at least in part on the idea - 'one host - one species'. It has not been possible to reconcile the descriptions with any of the currently recongised species and these are not currently regarded as valid species. As further investigations are made into this genus these species may be resurrected. A species P. japonicum has been reported but this appears to be the only report of this species and should therefore be regarded of dubious validity.


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