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Tritrichomonas foetus: Search for a Potential Reservoir Host in Wild and Captive Rodents




McNeely, Isaac

Type of Degree



Biological Sciences


Tritrichomonas foetus is a parasitic protist that has economic importance because it causes a venereal disease in cattle and a bowel disease in domestic cats. The source of infection for feline populations is unknown; one possibility is that the parasite is carried by rodents, which often contain similar protists in the cecum. In this study, samples of cecal material were taken from 75 wild and 51 domestic rodents in Alabama and Georgia. Samples were examined microscopically for the presence of trichomonads, especially those large enough to be T. foetus (>15 μm long). These large trichomonads were found in 59.5% of samples. To determine the species of trichomonads present, PCR and sequencing methods were used. Three sets of primers were used to amplify the conserved 5.8S rRNA gene, as well as the flanking regions ITS-1 and ITS-2. Results of PCR indicated that T. foetus was present in 28.3% of all specimens. Products derived from PCR were sequenced, and compared to the GenBank database was used to determine sequence homology. Of the specimens, 14.3% were identified as T. foetus (n = 18 of 126), and 12.7% were identified as T. muris (n = 16 of 126). This indicates that rodents could be a reservoir host for T. foetus.