New parasite named after UL vice-chancellor

Prof Mahlo Mokgalong, UL Vice-Chancellor and Principal.

LIMPOPO – The parasite was dubbed Mediorhynchus mokgalongi in honour of Mokgalong’s significant contribution to the field of parasitology as he has written extensively on zoology, and has a special interest in bird parasites.

The team found the parasite after examining a dead Karoo thrush bird which was found dead in 2013.

The virus that was found and named after Prof Mahlo Mokgalong.

According to Dr Ali Halajian, a senior researcher in the Department of Biodiversity at UL, the bird was found dead in Polokwane, with no evident physical harm and he was wondering why the bird had died.

The team found three new specimens of the parasite in the intestines of the bird with the collaboration of Australian counterparts. Halajian explained these parasites damaged the intestines of the bird and it was concluded it was probably the cause of death.

Halajian said he believes this discovery will add to South Africa’s fauna which has one of the highest levels of biodiversity in the world.

There are over 65 500 known animal species in South Africa, the majority of which are insects, with many more still to be discovered.

The research results were published in the Comparative Parasitology Journal.

Thus far, the UL Department of Biodiversity has discovered more than 25 new organisms in South Africa.

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  AUTHOR
Nelie Erasmus

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