Martinsen, E. S., Brightman, H., and Fleischer, Robert C. 2014. "Fecal samples fail in PCR-based diagnosis of malaria parasite infection in birds." Conservation Genetics Resources 1-3. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12686-014-0297-2
Malaria parasites are common in wild vertebrates on all warm continents and have recently been isolated from wild apes by non-invasive fecal sampling. Here, we examined the utility of fecal samples for malaria parasite detection in wild birds. We collected both blood and fecal samples from 56 birds sampled in the field, extracted DNA from all samples using various methods, and screened all samples using sensitive PCR-based methods. We found 35 birds to be positive for malaria parasite infection (genera Plasmodium and Parahaemoproteus) using blood samples while no fecal samples revealed a positive infection. These results suggest that malaria parasites cannot be efficiently detected from fecal samples of birds and that blood sampling is still necessary for the study of the malaria parasites of wild bird populations.