Background and Aim: Hemoplasmas are defined as small, epicellular parasitic bacteria that can infect the red blood cells of several mammalian species. Diseases caused by these bacteria range from asymptomatic infections to acute hemolytic anemia. However, data on hemoplasmas in non-human primates in Thailand remain to be limited. Therefore, this study aims to determine the occurrence and genetic diversity of hemoplasmas among long-tailed macaques in Thailand.
Materials and Methods: Blood samples were collected from 339 long-tailed macaques in three provinces of Thailand. DNA was then extracted from the blood samples and tested for hemoplasma using broad-range nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based on the 16S rRNA gene. PCR-positive samples were sequenced, and phylogenetic analysis for species identification was conducted.
Results: In total, 38 (11.2%) out of the 339 samples were found to be positive for hemoplasmas, based on the broad-range nested PCR assay of the 16S rRNA gene. The 16S rRNA sequences of Mycoplasma spp. were highly similar (98-99% identity) to "Candidatus Mycoplasma haemomacaque." Furthermore, phylogenetic analysis using maximum likelihood demonstrated that the sequences were located in the same cluster of "Ca. M. haemomacaque."
Conclusion: The detection of hemoplasmas among long-tailed macaques in Thailand is reported. Genetic characterization confirmed that these hemoplasmas are closely related to "Ca. M. haemomacaque." These results indicate that long-tailed macaques in several locations in Thailand may be infected and serve as reservoirs for this parasite.