American trypanosamiasis occurs in nature as a sylvatic cycle, where Trypanosoma cruzi interacts with wild triatomines and mammalian reservoirs, such as marsupials, rodents, armadillos and other animals. Due to difficulties in trying to isolate T. cruzi stocks from the sylvatic cycle, very few studies have been performed in order to understand the parasite infection in natural environments. Traditionally T. cruzi has been considered to be composed of a highly heterogeneous population of parasites. In contrast, the mini-exon and the 24Sα rRNA gene loci have shown that T. cruzi stocks can be clustered in 2 major phylogenetic groups: lineage 1 and lineage 2. In this report, 68 recently isolated T. cruzi samples from the sylvatic cycle belonging to different geographical areas in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, have been typed based on a variable spot in the non-transcribed spacer of the mini-exon gene. Eight isolates were from triatomines, 26 stocks were from golden-lion tamarins, 31 from opossums, 2 from rodents and 1 from a three-toed sloth. Thirty (44% – 30/68) isolates were typed as lineage 1, while 36 (53% – 36/68) isolates were typed as lineage 2. Two opossums presented mixed infection. Therefore, 3% (2/68) of the isolates were typed as lineage 1+lineage 2. Using these geographical regions as models of sylvatic environments, it was observed that 96% of the Didelphis marsupialis were infected by lineage 2 isolates, while all 26 golden-lion tamarins were infected by lineage 1. The results show preferential association of the 2 lineages of T. cruzi with different hosts, composing the complexity of the sylvatic cycle.
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