Sea otters (Enhydra lutris) have been reported to become infected with Toxoplasma gondii and at times succumb to clinical disease. Here, we determined genotypes of 39 T. gondii isolates from 37 sea otters in two geographically distant locations (25 from California and 12 from Washington). Six genotypes were identified using 10 PCR-RFLP genetic markers including SAG1, SAG2, SAG3, BTUB, GRA6, c22-8, c29-2, L358, PK1, and Apico, and by DNA sequencing of loci SAG1 and GRA6 in 13 isolates. Of these 39 isolates, 13 (33%) were clonal Type II which can be further divided into two groups at the locus Apico. Two of the 39 isolates had Type II alleles at all loci except a Type I allele at locus L358. One isolate had Type II alleles at all loci except the Type I alleles at loci L358 and Apico. One isolate had Type III alleles at all loci except Type II alleles at SAG2 and Apico. Two sea otter isolates had a mixed infection. Twenty-one (54%) isolates had an unique allele at SAG1 locus. Further genotyping or DNA sequence analysis for 18 of these 21 isolates at loci SAG1 and GRA6 revealed that there were two different genotypes, including the previously identified Type X (four isolates) and a new genotype named Type A (14 isolates). The results from this study suggest that the sea otter isolates are genetically diverse.
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Genetic diversity among sea otter isolates of Toxoplasma gondii