Genetic Exchange as a Possible Source of Genomic Diversity in Sylvatic Populations of Trypanosoma cruzi

Hernan J. CarrascoDepartment of Medical Parasitology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Servico de Parasitologia, Programa de Doenca de Chagas, Instituto Evandro Chagas, London, United Kingdom

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Iain A. FrameDepartment of Medical Parasitology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Servico de Parasitologia, Programa de Doenca de Chagas, Instituto Evandro Chagas, London, United Kingdom

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Sebastiao A. ValenteDepartment of Medical Parasitology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Servico de Parasitologia, Programa de Doenca de Chagas, Instituto Evandro Chagas, London, United Kingdom

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Michael A. MilesDepartment of Medical Parasitology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Servico de Parasitologia, Programa de Doenca de Chagas, Instituto Evandro Chagas, London, United Kingdom

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Thirty six stocks of Trypanosoma cruzi isolated from sylvatic mammals (32 Didelphis marsupialis and one Philander opossum) and triatomine bugs (Rhodnius robustus and one unidentified bug) in the Amazonian forest of Carajas, Brazil were characterized by isoenzyme and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis as belonging to principal zymodeme 1 (Z1). Two different homozygous phenotypes and the corresponding heterozygous phenotype were found for phosphoglucomutase with an observed frequency almost identical with that predicted by the theoretical Hardy-Weinberg distribution. Parental and hybrid profiles were also suggested by RAPD analysis, which allowed exclusion of mixed parental strains from the hybrids: isoenzyme and RAPD profiles of biological clones were also indistinguishable from those of uncloned stocks. Trypanosoma cruzi stocks from widely separated geographic origins in Central and South America gave similar RAPD profiles that allowed them to be recognized as being Z1. These results indicate that genetic exchange could contribute to the generation of genetic diversity during the sylvatic cycle of T. cruzi, and this may have epidemiologic and taxonomic implications.

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