Molecular characterization of Trichomonas gallinae isolates recovered from the Canadian Maritime provinces’ wild avifauna reveals the presence of the genotype responsible for the European finch trichomonosis epidemic and additional strains

Scott McBurney, Whitney Kelly-Clark, Maria Forzan, Becki Lawson, Kevin Tyler, Spencer Greenwood (Lead Author)

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Finch trichomonosis, caused by Trichomonas gallinae, emerged in the Canadian Maritime provinces in 2007 and has since caused ongoing mortality in regional purple finch (Carpodacus purpureus) and American goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) populations. Trichomonas gallinae was isolated from (1) finches and rock pigeons (Columbia livia) submitted for post-mortem or live-captured at bird feeding sites experiencing trichomonosis mortality; (2) bird seed at these same sites; and (3) rock pigeons live-captured at known roosts or humanely killed. Isolates were characterized using internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region and iron hydrogenase (Fe-hyd) gene sequences. Two distinct ITS types were found. Type A was identical to the UK finch epidemic strain and was isolated from finches and a rock pigeon with trichomonosis; apparently healthy rock pigeons and finches; and bird seed at an outbreak site. Type B was obtained from apparently healthy rock pigeons. Fe-hyd sequencing revealed six distinct subtypes. The predominant subtype in both finches and the rock pigeon with trichomonosis was identical to the UK finch epidemic strain A1. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in Fe-hyd sequences suggest there is fine-scale variation amongst isolates and that finch trichomonosis emergence in this region may not have been caused by a single spill-over event.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1053-1062
Number of pages10
Issue number08
Early online date25 Mar 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


  • Trichomonas gallinae
  • trichomonosis
  • genotype
  • ITS
  • Fe-hydrogenase
  • subtype
  • finch
  • pigeon

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