Background: Geothermal waters could be suitable niches for thermophilic free living amoebae including Naegleria and Hartmannella. Ardebil Province, northwest Iran is popular for having many hot springs for recreational and health purposes activity. The present research is the first molecular based investigation regarding the presence of Naegleria and Hartmannella in the hot springs of Ardebil Province in Iran.
Methods: Overall, 30 water samples were taken from waters of thermal hot springs in Ardebil Province, Iran during 2010-2011. All collected samples were transferred to Dept. of Parasitology and Mycology, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran. Cultivation of concentrated water samples was performed using culture-enrichment method. Cloning of the target amoebae was obtained and morphological and molecular analysis was done using page key combined with two sets of primers, respectively. Sequence analysis and homology search was used for strains identification.
Results: Of 30 water samples, 8 (26.7%) were positive for thermotolerant Vahlkampfiids and Hartmannella based on morphological characteristics of vegetative form and double walled cysts. Cloning of the target amoebae were done successfully. Sequencing of the positive isolates revealed that the strains belonged to Naegleria (N. carteri and N. spp) and H. vermiformis.
Conclusion: The result highlights a need for improved filtration and disinfection and periodic monitoring of recreational thermal waters in order to prevent disease related to free- living amoebae. This is the first comprehensive molecular study of thermophilic Naegleria and Hartmannella in hot springs of Iran.
Keywords: Hartmannella; Hot springs; Iran; Naegleria.