The blood of 21 adult South American mouse opossums (Thylamys elegans) captured from April through August of 2005 in central Chile was examined for parasites. Light microscopic analysis of blood smears initially suggested that a highly pleomorphic Hepatozoon species typical of American opossums was infecting erythrocytes. Unexpectedly, amplification by PCR and sequencing of a DNA fragment of the small subunit rDNA combined with phylogenetic analyses indicated that the parasite is not a member of the suborder Adeleorina, which includes the Haemogregarina and Hepatozoon species, but that it is a clearly distinct member of the suborder Eimeriorina, which includes the cyst-forming family Sarcocystidae. Therefore, a reclassification of this unusual intraerythrocytic apicomplexan will require additional life cycle, microscopic, and molecular analyses.
- Central Chile