Bovine babesiosis is a tick-borne disease mainly caused by the intraerythrocytic parasites Babesia bovis and B. bigemina. It affects cattle in tropical and subtropical regions, severely limiting meat and milk production. New tools are needed for its efficient control, including better surveillance in the face of control measures and development of improved vaccines. The main scientific objective of this work is to provide a molecular characterization of different B. bovis and B. bigemina field isolates that infect cattle in Mediterranean and Latin American countries, to detect their differences and similarities, in particular regarding identification of sequence polymorphisms in genes that codify for surface antigens that were previously defined as potential vaccine and diagnostic candidates. The main technological objective is to develop and test new diagnostic methods for bovine babesiosis in the participant countries. The specific aims are: a) Collection of blood samples from B. bovis and B. bigemina-naturally infected cattle from Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Turkey; b) Production of biological clones from some of the isolates collected; c) Studies of genetic and antigenic polymorphisms in genes codifying for already defined vaccine and diagnostic candidates; d) Definition of molecular markers and techniques that can be useful for strain characterization; e) Studies of alternative reservoirs among other ruminants and wildlife species for B. bovis and B. bigemina and f) Development of new diagnostic methods, including cELISA, strip tests and Real Time PCR, and comparison of their effectiveness with other available diagnostic tests. Accomplishment of these goals will provide new biotechnological tools and useful information about these parasites, which will contribute to the improved control of bovine babesiosis.
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project