New Parasite Affecting Canadian Partridges Named for Arkansas Poultry Scientist

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With a newly discovered poultry pathogen named in his honor, Billy Hargis has a permanent place in the annals of science. And now, the pathogen has a permanent place on Hargis.

Eimeria hargisi is a parasite discovered by the Ontario Veterinary College at the University of Guelph following studies of a recurring disease at a commercial chukar partridge farm in Ontario, Canada.

Hargis, Distinguished Professor of poultry science and director of the John Kirkpatrick Skeeles Poultry Health Laboratory, considers having the parasite named after him an honor when coming from his longtime colleague and friend John Barta, professor of parasitology at the Ontario Veterinary College. Hargis took an image of the newly named microbe to a tattoo artist for it to be linked in ink.

“John Barta is big in the world of parasitology, so this means a lot coming from him,” Hargis said. “I wanted to commemorate it a little differently.”

The oval-shaped tattoo is on the side of his right calf, shaded in areas with blue and pink.

The Skeeles lab is part of the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station, the research arm of the U of A System Division of Agriculture. Hargis teaches courses in the Poultry Science Department through the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences.

Barta noted that his team of student researchers led by Ph.D. student Jessica Rotolo at the Ontario Veterinary College discovered the new species of Eimeria. The Eimeria parasite family causes a deadly disease called coccidiosis that can infect a wide range of animals, from poultry, cattle and sheep to rabbits, bats, fish and seals. The discovery of the newly named species was published in the December 2023 edition of the Journal of Parasitology.

“The parasite is named to honor Dr. Billy Hargis for his exemplary research record in support of poultry gut health and his past and ongoing advancement of coccidiosis research through the training and mentorship of future scientists,” the research team states in the study.

The last time an Arkansas poultry researcher had a parasite named after them was 2021. Barta said that previous research on the same coccidiosis infections in the Ontario-based commercial chukar partridge farm resulted in the naming of Eimeria chapmani for retired experiment station researcher David H. Chapman.

To learn more about Division of Agriculture research, visit the Arkansas Agricultural Experiment Station website: https://aaes.uada.edu. Follow on Twitter at @ArkAgResearch. To learn more about the Division of Agriculture, visit https://uada.edu/. Follow us on Twitter at @AgInArk. To learn about extension programs in Arkansas, contact your local Cooperative Extension Service agent or visit www.uaex.uada.edu.

About the Division of Agriculture: The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system. The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

Source: University of Arkansas