About Bioline  All Journals  Testimonials  Membership  News  Donations

Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz
Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Fiocruz
ISSN: 1678-8060 EISSN: 1678-8060
Vol. 93, Num. 1, 1998, pp. 81-90
Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro, Vol. 93(1), January/February 1998, pp. 81-90

Eimeria peltocephali n. sp., (Apicomplexa:Eimeriidae) from the Freshwater Turtle Peltocephalus dumerilianus (Chelonia:Pelomusidae) and Eimeria molossi n. sp., from the Bat, Molossus ater (Mammalia:Chiroptera)

R Lainson/^+, RD Naiff*

Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto Evandro Chagas, Caixa Postal 691, 66017-970 Belem, PA, Brasil
* Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Caixa Postal 478, Manaus, AM, Brasil
^+ Corresponding author. Fax: +

Received 26 July 1997; Accepted 5 August 1997

Code Number:OC98015
Sizes of Files:
    Text: 25.4K
    Graphics: Line drawings and photographs (jpg) - 192.9K
              Tables (jpg) - 163.6K

The oocyst is described of Eimeria peltocephali n.sp. from faeces of the freshwater turtle Peltocephalus dumerilianus from Barcelos, State of Amazonas, Brazil. Sporulation is exogenous and fully developed oocysts are elongate, ellipsoidal or cylindrical, frequently curved to a banana-shape, 54.4 x 19.1 (37.5-68.7 x 18.7-20.0 um), shape-index 2.8 (1.8 -3.9). The oocyst wall is a single thin, colourless layer about 1 um thick, with no micropyle. There is a bulky oocyst residuum, at first spherical to ellipsoidal, 19 x 16 (16.2-26.2 x 16-21.5um) , but becoming dispersed on maturation. There are no polar bodies. The sporocysts, 19.1 x 6.8 (17.5 -21.2 x 6.2-7.5 um), shape- index 2.8 (2.3-3.2), are usually disposed in pairs at each end of the oocyst, and bear an inconspicuous Stieda body in the form of a flat cap. The sporozoites are elongate and slightly curved around the residuum. No refractile bodies were seen. Eimeria molossi n.sp., is described from the molossid bat Molossus ater. Sporulation is exogenous and the mature oocysts are predominantly broadly ellipsoidal, 23.4 x 17.5 (18-30 x 15-22.5 um), shape-index 1.3 (1-1.6). The oocyst wall is about 2 um thick, and of three layers: an inner thin, colourless one and two outer layers which are thicker, yellowish-brown, prominently striated and in close apposition. There is no micropyle or oocyst residuum, but one and occasionally two polar bodies are usually present. Sporocysts are ellipsoidal, 10.2 x 7.5 (10-12.5 x 7.5 um), shape-index 1.4 (1.3-1.7) with an inconspicuous Stieda body. Endogenous stages are described in the epithelial cells of the small intestine.

Key words: Eimeria peltocephali n. sp. - Eimeria molossi n. sp. - turtles - Peltocephalus dumerilianus - bat - Molossus ater

During a scientific expedition to Barcelos, on the river Rio Negro, State of Amazonas, north Brazil (0.58' S: 62.57' W) in January l996, one of us (RDN) had the opportunity to collect material from a number of freshwater turtles when these were being killed and sold in the local market A hitherto unrecorded species of Eimeria was encountered in the faeces of 9 out of 18 adult specimens of the "cabecudo", Peltocephalus dumerilianus (Schweigger, 1812), and faecal material from a number of "irapucas", Podocnemis erythrocephala (Spix, 1824) was found to contain scanty coccidian oocysts which failed, however, to sporulate. The parasite from P. dumerilianus is described below.

Coccidial oocysts found in faecal samples from 17 of 38 adult specimens of the bat Molossus ater Geoffroy 1805, captured in the suburbs of Manaus, State of Amazonas, Brazil, are considered to be those a new species of Eimeria. Descriptions are given of the immature and mature oocysts, and of endogenous stages of the parasite seen in sections of the small intestine.


Faecal material removed from the rectum of each animal was gently triturated in 2% (w/v) aqueous potassium dichromate ( K2Cr2O7) and maintained at room temperature (23 -24 C). Fifty oocysts and 30 sporocysts of the Eimeria sp. from Peltocephalus, and 100 oocysts and 50 sporocysts of the parasite from M. ater were measured by normal light microscopy with a x100 neofluar objective, x 8 eyepieces and an ocular micrometer. Photomicrographs were prepared using a Zeiss Photomicroscope III and Kodak TMX 100 film. All measurements are in um and are given as means, with the range in parentheses, followed by the shape-index (ratio of length/width).

The small intestine of each bat was fixed in buffered 10% formaldehyde for the subsequent preparation of histological sections, cut at 4 um and stained with haematoxylin and eosin. Unfortunately, work conditions and the large size of the turtles did not permit a similar treatment for the intestines of these animals.


Eimeria peltocephali n. sp.

(Figs 1-4 and Fig. 24)

    Figures 1-4: Photomicrographs of oocysts of Eimeria peltocephali n. sp., in faeces from the turtle Peltocephalus dumerilianus: bright-field microscopy. Fig. 1: immature oocyst. Figs 2-4: mature oocysts. or: oocyst residuum; s: Stieda body; sp: sporocyst; spz: sporozoite; sr: sporocyst residuum; Z: zygote.

Description: with the characters of the genus Eimeria Schneider, 1875. Oocysts elongate, frequently in the form of a gently curved cylinder with rounded ends, 54.4 x 19.1 (37.5-68.7 x 18.7-20), shape-index 2.8 (1.8-3.9). Oocyst wall a single, colourless layer approximately 1 thick and with no micropyle. Oocyst residuum at first a semi-spherical mass of globules which measures a mean of 19 x 16 (16.2-26.2 x 16-21.5) in the unsporulated oocyst, and frequently becomes dispersed when this is mature: no polar bodies are produced. Sporocysts 19.1 x 6.8 (17.5-21.2 x 6.2-7.5), shape index 2.8 (2.3-3.2), very frequently located in pairs towards the ends of the oocyst. Sporocyst residuum bulky and composed of a mixture of fine and slightly larger granules. Sporocyst wall very delicate and bearing an inconspicuous cap-like Stieda body, apparently without a sub-Stieda body. The sporozoites occupy almost the entire length of the sporocyst and are slightly recurved around the residuum. No refractile bodies were visible under ordinary light-microscopy.

Type host: the freshwater turtle, Peltocephalus dumerilianus (Schweigger, 1812) (Reptilia: Chelonia: Pelomusidae). Local name "cabecudo".

Location in host: uncertain, but with the failure to detect parasites in the gall-bladder of infected animals, it is most probably in the intestine. The oocysts were described from the faeces.

Sporulation: exogenous. Sporulation time not recorded.

Type locality: Barcelos, State of Amazonas, north Brazil (0.58' S: 62.57' W).

Prevalence: of 18 turtles examined, 9 were infected.

Pathogeniciy: unknown.

Etymology: the specific name is derived from the generic name of the host, Peltocephalus.

Eimeria molossi n. sp.

(Figs 5-13, 14-23 and 25)

    Figures 5-13: Photomicrographs of oocysts of Eimeria molossi n. sp., in faeces of the bat Molossus ater: bright-field microscopy. Fig. 5: intact, immature oocyst. Figs 6-9: crushed, immature oocysts, with the two outer, striated layers (L2 & L3) separated from the third smooth, inner layer (L1); in Fig. 8 the line of contact between the two outer layers is clearly visible. Figs 10-13: mature oocysts, some partially broken (12,13). PB: polar bodies; RB: refractile body; S: Stieda body; SP: sporocyst; SR: sporocyst residuum; Z: zygote. um bar in Fig. 5 also applies to Figs 7-13

Description: with the characters of the genus. Oocyst predominantly broadly ellipsoidal, sometimes subspherical, 23.4 x 17.5 (18-30 x 15-22.5), shape index 1.3 (1-1.6). Intact oocyst wall about 2, and with three layers. An inner one which is thin, colourless and unstriated, and two outer layers which are thicker, yellowish-brown, prominently striated and closely contiguous. The two outer layers may be lost, so that the oocyst then appears smooth, colourless and thin-walled. There is no micropyle. Formation of the four sporocysts leaves no oocyst residuum, but most oocysts have a conspicuous spherical to ellipsoidal polar body of about 1.9; on rare occasions two polar bodies may be present. Sporocysts broadly ellipsoidal, 10.25 x 7.5 (10-12.5 x 7.5), shape-index 1.4 (1.3-1.7), with the very fine wall bearing a small, nipple-like Stieda body. No sub-Stieda body could be detected. Sporocystic residuum composed of from 4 to 12 relatively large spherules lying between the two sporozoites, which lay in "head-to-tail" fashion, occupy the entire sporocyst, and are usually recurved on themselves. At least one refractile body is present (seen with difficulty).

Host: the bat Molossus ater Geoffroy 1805 (Chiroptera:Molossidae).

Location in host: epithelium of the ileum, with all stages positioned between the brush-border and the host cell nucleus, which is usually grossly displaced or destroyed by the larger parasites.

Endogenous stages: in histological sections, the six mature meronts seen had a mean measurement of 12.3 x 9.3 (11-14 x 8-10) and produced an estimated 8-12 merozoites measuring 6 x 1 (Fig.18). Young macrogametocytes are at first spherical (Figs 14-16), becoming ellipsoidal with growth and finally reaching about 18 x 14, when the wall-forming glycoprotein granules become very conspicuous and may measure up to 2 in diameter (Fig. 17). The oocyst wall is fully developed before the oocysts are shed into the gut lumen (Fig.18).

    Figures 14-23: Endogenous stages of Eimeria molossi n. sp., in epithelial cells of the ileum of the bat Molossus ater. Sections stained with haematoxylin and eosin. Figs 14-15: young macrogametocytes (ma). Fig. 16: older macrogametocytes with developing wall-forming bodies. Fig. 17: mature macrogametocyte with peripherally disposed wall-forming bodies (w). Fig. 18: young oocyst (o) and mature meront (m). Fig. 19: nearly mature microgametocyte (mi). Figs 20-21: mature microgametocytes shedding gametes and leaving a large residuum (r). Fig. 22: destruction of villus epithelium in an area of parasite development (d). Fig. 23: epithelial cell-debris and developing macrogametocytes (ma) sloughed into the gut lumen. The um bar in Fig.15 applies to Figs 14-21; that in Fig. 22 also applies to Fig. 23.

Mature microgametocyes seen in sections (Figs 19-21) averaged 15.8 x 11.8 (15.5-17 x 11-12), and shed > 50 microgametes measuring about 3 x 0.5. There is a bulky residual body of about 10 x 8.

Sporulation: exogenous. Sporulation time was not determined, but it was noted that many oocysts (sometimes as many as 70% of a given faecal specimen) failed to sporulate.

Locality: Manaus, State of Amazonas

Prevalence: 17 of the 38 bats examined (44.7%) were infected.

Pathogenicity: there were no outward signs of disease in the infected animals. Histological sections of the ileum of heavily infected bats, however, showed epithelial damage presumed to be caused by the parasite (Fig. 22), and endogenous stages were commonly seen together with sloughed epithelial cell debris in the gut lumen (Fig. 23).

Etymology: the specific name is derived from the generic name of the host, Molossus.

    Figure 24: line-drawing of a mature oocyst of Eimeria peltocephali n. sp. from the Amazonian turtle Peltocephalus dumerilianus.

    Figure 25: Line-drawing of a mature oocyst of Eimeria molossi n.sp., from the bat Molossus ater.


Of the 44 previously named species of Eimeria in chelonids ( Table I (A) and Table I B), the oocysts of E. peltocephali n.sp. most resemble those of E. texana and E. cooteri (McAllister & Upton, 1989), which are also elongate-cylindrical. They are, however, very much larger (mean 54.4 x 19.1 versus 20.5 x 8.4 for E. texana and 25.9 x 10.9 for E. cooteri). The sporocysts of E. peltocephali are elongate (19.1 x 6.8), while those E. texana are ovoid (8.1 x 4.7). Although elongate, the sporocysts of E. cooteri (14.9 x 5.3) differ in the possession of a strangely elongated Stieda body capped by tiny, knob-like thickenings.

From their own and other authors' studies, McAllister and Upton (1989) concluded that "....most, but not all, of the turtle Coccidia from aqueous environments in North America are not particularly species specific", and that "....most species of coccidia in the Testudines are specific at the family level" (McAllister et al. 1990). A glance at Table I certainly supports this view, with some Eimeria species recorded in three (E. marginata and E. tetradacrutata), four (E. graptemydos and E. lutotestudinis) or even an astonishing eight different genera of chelonians (E. mitraria). For records of such multiplicity of hosts, reference may be made to McAllister and Upton (1988, 1989b, 1992), McAllister et al. (1990a, 1991) and Wacha and Christianson (1976, 1979). Much less is known about the host range and prevalence of the coccidia of chelonians in the neotropics and the Old World. It would be strange, however, if a similar situation does not exist in these regions.

As far as we are aware, 13 different specific names have been allocated to the genus Eimeria found in bats. Of these, however, E. viridis (Labbe 1893) Reichenow 1921 was clearly considered as a nomen nudum by Pellerdy (1974) due to what appears to be a confused description of more than one parasite, while E. myotis and E. plecoti Gottschalk 1969 must also be regarded as nomina nuda, because their description was restricted to unsporulated oocysts, the true nature of which is clearly questionable.

Of the remaining ten species (Table II), Eimeria molossi n.sp., is readily differentiated from E. andamanensis, E. hessei, E. levinei, E. mehelyi, E. rhynchonycteridis, E. vespertilii and E. zakirica, which all have a smooth, unstriated oocyst wall, and from E. dukei which has a large oocystic residuum.

Morphology of the oocyst of E. molossi n.sp., most closely approaches that of E. eumopos and E. macyi, both of which have a roughish, striated oocyst wall. The oocysts of E. eumopos, however, are substantially larger (35 x 28, range 34-36 x 27-28 versus 23 x 17, range 18-30 x 15-22), and the oocyst wall has only two layers. Mature meronts of E. molossi n.sp. are small and produce only from 8-12 merozoites, whereas Marinkelle described those of E. eumopos as measuring up to 98 x 62 (globidial schizogony?), with a thick wall and containing up to 350 merozoites. Finally, the oocysts of E. macyi are smaller than those of E. molossi n. sp., (19 x 17.6 versus 23 x 17 ), more inclined to a spherical shape (shape-index 1 versus 1.3), and have a wall of only one layer. Furthermore, its sporocysts have a much more prominent Stieda body and possesses a very conspicuous sub-Stieda body, not seen in the sporocysts of E. molossi.


To Constancia Maia Franco and Walter M Campos, Instituto Evandro Chagas, Belem, for technical assistance; to Dr Suely Marques, Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Belem, for the identification of bats and advice regarding chiropteran taxonomy; and to Dr WE Magnusson, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Manaus, for identification of the turtles.


  • Bray RS 1958. On the parasitic protozoa of Liberia. I. Coccidia of some small mammals. J Protozool 5: 81-83.
  • Carini A 1942. Sobre uma Eimeria da "Testudo tabulata". Arq Biol (Sao Paulo) 26: 163-164.
  • Cerruti A 1930. Su di un coccidio parassita di Testudo graeca Linn. Arch Ital Sci Med Col 11: 328-331.
  • Chakravarty M, Kar AB 1943. Observations on two coccidia, Eimeria trionyxae n.sp. and Eimeria triangularis n.sp., from the intestine of the turtle Trionyx gangeticus Cuv. J Roy Asiat Soc Bengal Sci 9: 49-54.
  • Das Gupta M 1938. On a new coccidium, Eimeria koormae n.sp. from the intestine of the Indian tortoise, Lissemys punctata Smith. Arch Protistenkd 90: 410-413.
  • Deeds OJ, Jahn TL 1939. Coccidian infections of western painted turtles of the Okoboji region. Trans Am Micr Soc 58: 249-253.
  • Doflein F 1909. Lehrbuch der Protozoenkunde. Verlag Gustav Fischer, Jena.
  • Ernst JV, Forrester DJ 1973. Eimeria carri sp.n. (Protozoa: Eimeriidae) from the box turtle Terrapene carolina. J Parasitol 59: 635-636.
  • Ernst JV, Stewart TB, Sampson JR, Fincher GT 1969. Eimeria chelydrae n.sp (Protozoa: Eimeriidae) from the snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina. Bull Wildl Dis Assoc 5: 410-411.
  • Ernst JV, Fincher GT, Stewart TB 1971. Eimeria paynei sp.n. (Protozoa: Eimeriidae) from the gopher tortoise, Gopherus polyphemus. Proc Helminthol Soc Washington 38: 223-224.
  • Gottschalk VC 1969. Kokzidien aus Thuringen und der Oberlausitz. Angew Parasitol 10: 229-232.
  • Kar AB 1944. Two new coccidia from pond turtles, Lissemys punctata (Bonnaterre). Indian Vet J 20: 231-235.
  • Labbe A 1893. Coccidium delagei coccidie nouvelle parasite des tortues d'eau douce. Arch Zool Exp Gen 1: 267-280.
  • Lainson R 1968a. Parasitological studies in British Honduras. IV. Some coccidial parasites of reptiles. Ann Trop Med Parasitol 62: 260-266.
  • Lainson R 1968b. Parasitological studies in British Honduras III. Some coccidial parasites of mammals. Ann Trop Med Parasitol 62: 252-259.
  • Lainson R, Costa AM, Shaw JJ 1990. Eimeria species (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) of Podocnemis expansa (Schweigger) and Geochelone denticulata (Linn.) from Amazonian Brazil. Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz 85: 383-390.
  • Laveran A, Mesnil F 1902. Sur quelques protozoaires parasites d'une tortue d'Asie (Damonia reevesii). C R Seances Acad Sci Ser 3, 135: 609-614.
  • Lavier G 1924. Eimeria hessei n.sp., coccidie parasite intestinale de Rhinolophus hipposideros. Ann Parasitol 2: 335-339.
  • Lavier G 1927 Eimeria dukei n.sp., coccidie parasite intestinale de cheiroptère. C R Soc Biol 97: 1707-1709.
  • Mandal AK 1976. Coccidia of Indian vertebrates. Rec Zool Surv India 70: 39-120.
  • Mandal AK, Nair KN 1973. A new species of coccidium from Taphozous melanopogon Temminck (Mammalia: Chiroptera) from Andaman Islands. Proc Ind Acad Sci Sect B 77: 243-246.
  • Marinkelle CJ 1968. Eimeria eumopos n.sp. from a Colombian bat Eumops trumbulli. J Protozool 15: 57-58.
  • McAllister CT, Upton SJ 1988. Eimeria trachemydis n.sp. (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) and other eimerians from the red-eared slider, Trachemys scripta elegans (Reptilia: Testudines), in northcentral Texas. J Parasitol 74: 1014-1017.
  • McAllister CT, Upton SJ 1989a. Eimeria ornata n.sp. (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) from the ornate box turtle, Terrapene ornata ornata (Reptilia: Testudines), in Texas. J Protozool 36: 131-133.
  • McAllister CT, Upton SJ 1989b. The coccidia (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) of testudines, with descriptions of three new species. Can J Zool 67: 2459-2467.
  • McAllister CT, Upton SJ 1992. A new species of Eimeria (Apicomplexa:Eimeriidae) from Pseudemys texana (Testudines: Emydidae), from north-central Texas. Tex J Sci 44: 37-41.
  • McAllister CT, Upton SJ, McCaskill 1990a. Three new species of Eimeria (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) from Apalone spinifera pallidus (Testudines: Trionychidae) in Texas, with a redescription of E. amydae. J Parasitol 76: 481-486.
  • McAllister CT, Upton SJ, Trauth 1990b. Coccidian parasites (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) of Chelydra serpentina (Testudines:Chelydridae) from Arkansas and Texas, U.S.A, with descriptions of Isospora chelydrae sp.nov. and Eimeria serpentina sp.nov. Canad J Zool 68: 865-868.
  • Mussaiev MA 1967. [A new species of coccidia, Eimeria zakirica, from the Mediterranean bat Vespertilio kuhlii Kuhl] (In Russian). Izv Akad Nauk Azerb SSR Ser Biol Nauk No 5: 37-38.
  • Mussaiev MA, Gauzer ME 1971. Eimeria mehelyi - novyi vid koktsidii iz podkovonosa megeli (Rhinolophus mehelyi). Izv Akad Nauk Azerb SSR Ser Biol Nauk No 2: 94-96.
  • Mussaiev MA, Veisov AM 1961. [A new species of coccidium from the Mediterranean bat, Vespertilio kuhli Kuhl] (In Russian). Dok Akad Nauk Azerb SSR 17: 741-744.
  • Pellerdy LP 1974. Coccidia and coccidiosis, 2nd ed. Paul Parey, Berlin and Hamburg, Akademiai Kiado, Budapest, 959 pp.
  • Pluto TG, Rothenbacher H 1976. Eimeria juniataensis sp.n. (Protozoa: Eimeriidae) from the map turtle, Graptemys geographica, in Pennsylvania. J Parasitol 62: 207-208.
  • Reichenow E 1921. Die Coccidian, p. 1136-1277. In SJM Prowazek Handbuch der pathogenen Protozoen, JA Barth, Leipzig.
  • Roundabush RL 1937. Some coccidia of reptiles found in North America. J Parasitol 23: 354-359.
  • Sampson JR, Ernst JV 1969. Eimeria scriptae n.sp. (Sporozoa: Eimeriidae) from the red-eared turtle Pseudemys scripta elegans. J Protozool 16: 444-445.
  • Simond P-L 1901. Note sur une coccidie nouvelle, Coccidium legeri, parasite de Cryptopus granosus (Emyda granosa). C R Seances Soc Biol (Paris) 53: 485-486.
  • Upton SJ, McAllister CT, Trauth SE 1992. Description of a new species of Eimeria (Apicomplexa: Eimeriidae) from the alligator snapping turtle, Macroclemys
  • temminckii (Testudines: Chelydridae). J Helminthol Soc Washington 59: 167-169.
  • Upton SJ, Odell DK, Walsh MT 1990. Eimeria caretta sp. nov. (Apicomplexa:Eimeriidae) from the loggerhead sea turtle, Caretta caretta (Testudines). Can J Zool 68: 1268-1269.
  • Wacha RS, Christiansen JL 1974. Eimeria megalostiedai sp.n. (Protozoa: Sporozoa) from the wood turtle, Clemmys insculpta, in Iowa. Proc Helminthol Soc
  • Washington 41: 35-37.
  • Wacha RS, Christiansen JL 1976. Coccidian parasites from Iowa turtles: systematics and prevalence. J Protozool 23: 57-63.
  • Wacha RS, Christiansen JL 1977. Additional notes on the coccidian parasites of the soft-shell turtle, Trionyx spiniferus Le Sueur, in Iowa, with a description of Eimeria vesicostieda sp.n. J Protozool 24: 357-359.
  • Wacha RS, Christiansen J 1979. Eimeria filamentifera sp.n. from the snapping turtle, Chelydra serpentina (Linne), in Iowa. J Protozool 26: 353-354.
  • Wheat BE 1975. Eimeria macyi sp.n. (Protozoa: Eimeriidae) from the Eastern pipistrelle, Pipistrellus subflavus, from Alabama. J Parasitol 61: 920-922.
  • Work supported by a grant from the Wellcome Trust, London (RL) and financed in part by the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia, Brasil (RDN).

    Copyright 1998 Fundacao Oswaldo Cruz - Fiocruz

    The following images related to this document are available:

    Photo images

    [oc98015d.jpg] [oc98015a.jpg] [oc98015h.jpg] [oc98015g.jpg] [oc98015c.jpg] [oc98015b.jpg] [oc98015e.jpg] [oc98015f.jpg]
  • Home Faq Resources Email Bioline
    © Bioline International, 1989 - 2019, Site last up-dated on 04-Dec-2019.
    Site created and maintained by the Reference Center on Environmental Information, CRIA, Brazil
    System hosted by the Internet Data Center of Rede Nacional de Ensino e Pesquisa, RNP, Brazil