Temporal dynamics and subpopulation analysis of Theileria orientalis genotypes in cattle

Infect Genet Evol. 2015 Jun;32:199-207. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2015.03.017. Epub 2015 Mar 17.


In Australia, outbreaks of clinical theileriosis caused by Theileria orientalis have been largely associated with the Ikeda genotype which can occur as a sole infection, or more commonly, as a mixture of genotypes. The most prevalent genotype, Chitose, frequently co-occurs with type Ikeda, however the role of this genotype in clinical disease has not been clearly established. Furthermore, the dynamics of individual genotypes in field infection of cattle have not been examined. In this study we developed quantitative PCR (qPCR) and genotyping methods to examine the role of the Chitose genotype in clinical disease and to investigate the temporal dynamics of T. orientalis Ikeda, Chitose and Buffeli genotypes in naïve animals introduced to a T. orientalis-endemic area. Analysis of the major piroplasm surface protein (MPSP) genes of Chitose isolates revealed the presence of two distinct phylogenetic clusters, Chitose A and Chitose B. A genotyping assay aimed at determining Chitose A/B allele frequency revealed that the Chitose A phylogenetic cluster is strongly associated with clinical disease but nearly always co-occurs with the Ikeda genotype. qPCR revealed that the Chitose genotype (particularly Chitose A), undergoes temporal switching in conjunction with the Ikeda genotype and contributes substantially to the overall parasite burden. The benign Buffeli genotype can also undergo temporal switching but levels of this genotype appear to remain low relative to the Ikeda and Chitose types. Interplay between vector and host immunological factors is presumed to be critical to the population dynamics observed in this study. Genotypic switching likely contributes to the persistence of T. orientalis in the host.

Keywords: Buffeli; Chitose; Genotype; Ikeda; Temporal switching; Theileria orientalis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Australia / epidemiology
  • Cattle / parasitology*
  • Cattle Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cattle Diseases / parasitology*
  • DNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • Disease Outbreaks / veterinary*
  • Genotype*
  • Genotyping Techniques
  • Phylogeny
  • Phylogeography
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Theileria / genetics*
  • Theileria / isolation & purification
  • Theileriasis / epidemiology
  • Theileriasis / parasitology*


  • DNA, Protozoan