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Characterization of Leishmania (Leishmania) waltoni n.sp. (Kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae), the Parasite Responsible for Diffuse Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in the Dominican Republic

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  • Parasitology Department, Biomedical Sciences Institute, São Paulo University, São Paulo, Brazil; French National Reference Centre on Leishmaniasis, Montpellier University, Montpellier, France; Biology Department, BioSciences Institute, São Paulo University, São Paulo, Brazil; Tropical Medicine Nucleus, Pará Federal University, Brazil; School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, England

Leishmania parasites isolated, between 1979 and 1988 by the late Bryce Walton, from Dominican Republic (DR) patients with diffuse cutaneous leishmaniasis, were characterized using a panel of 12 isoenzymes, 23 monoclonal antibodies, small subunit ribosomal DNA (SSu rDNA), and multilocus sequence analysis (MLSA). The isoenzyme and monoclonal antibody profiles and the MLSA results showed that the Dominican Republic parasites were distinct from other described Leishmania species. This new species belongs to the mexicana complex, which is distributed in central and parts of northern South America. It is suggested that the parasites uniqueness from other members of the mexicana complex is related to it being isolated on an island for millions of years. If Leishmania (Leishmania) waltoni fails to adapt to some imported mammal, such as the house rat, it will be the only Leishmania to be classified as an endangered species. The excessive destruction of habitats on Hispaniola threatens the survival of its vectors and presumed natural reservoirs, such as the rodent hutias and the small insectivorous mammal solenodon. The concept of Leishmania species is discussed in the light of recent evaluations on criteria for defining bacterial species.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Jeffrey Shaw, Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciêncas Biomédicas II, Universidade de São Paulo, Avenida Professor Lineu Prestes 1374, São Paulo, 05508-000 SP, Brazil, E-mail: jayusp@hotmail.com or Jean-Pierre Dedet, Laboratoire de Parasitologie-Mycologie, CHRU de Montpellier, 39, Avenue Charles Flahault, 34295 Montpellier Cedex 5, France, E-mail: parasito@univ-montp1.fr

Financial support: This study was financially supported by Wellcome Trust, The Brazilian Research Council (CNPq), São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP). The National Reference Centre for Leishmaniasis of Montpellier receives financial support from the Institut National de Veille sanitaire, French Ministry of Public Health.

Authors' addresses: Jeffrey Shaw, Parasitology Department, Biomedical Sciences Institute, São Paulo University, São Paulo, Brazil, E-mail: jayusp@hotmail.com. Francine Pratlong, Christophe Ravel and Jean-Pierre Dedet, French National Reference Centre on Leishmaniasis, CNRS 5290 - IRD 224, Montpellier University, 1&2 (UMR MiVEGEC), Montpellier, France, E-mails: f-pratlong@chu-montpellier.fr, christophe.ravel@univ-montp1.fr, and parasito@univ-montp1.fr. Lucile Floeter-Winter, Biology Department, BioSciences Institute, São Paulo University, São Paulo, Brazil, E-mail: lucile@ib.usp.br. Edna Ishikawa, Tropical Medicine Nucleus, Pará Federal University, Brazil, E-mail: ishikawa@ufpa.br. Fouad El Baidouri, School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, England, E-mail: elbaidourifouad@gmail.com.

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