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Ancient parasitic DNA reveals Toxascaris leonina presence in Final Pleistocene of South America

  • Romina S. Petrigh (a1), Jorge G. Martínez (a2), Mariana Mondini (a3) (a4) and Martín H. Fugassa (a1)

Abstract

Parasitological analysis of coprolites has allowed exploring ecological relationships in ancient times. Ancient DNA analysis contributes to the identification of coprolites and their parasites. Pleistocene mammalian carnivore coprolites were recovered from paleontological and archaeological site Peñas de las Trampas 1.1 in the southern Puna of Argentina. With the aim of exploring ancient ecological relationships, parasitological analysis was performed to one of them, dated to 16 573–17 002 calibrated years BP, with 95.4% probability. Parasite eggs attributed to Toxascaris sp. by morphological characters were isolated. DNA of coprolite and eggs was extracted to molecular identification. Ancient mitochondrial DNA analysis confirmed the zoological origin of the coprolite as Puma concolor and that of parasite eggs as Toxascaris leonina. This is the oldest molecular parasite record worldwide, and it supports the presence of this parasite since the Pleistocene in America. These findings have implications for the biogeographic history of parasites and for the natural history of the region.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Romina S. Petrigh, E-mail: rpetrigh@gmail.com

References

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