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A new genotype of Trypanosoma cruzi associated with bats evidenced by phylogenetic analyses using SSU rDNA, cytochrome b and Histone H2B genes and genotyping based on ITS1 rDNA

  • A. MARCILI (a1), L. LIMA (a1), M. CAVAZZANA (a1) (a2), A. C. V. JUNQUEIRA (a3), H. H. VELUDO (a4), F. MAIA DA SILVA (a1), M. CAMPANER (a1), F. PAIVA (a5), V. L. B. NUNES (a6) and M. M. G. TEIXEIRA (a1)...

We characterized 15 Trypanosoma cruzi isolates from bats captured in the Amazon, Central and Southeast Brazilian regions. Phylogenetic relationships among T. cruzi lineages using SSU rDNA, cytochrome b, and Histone H2B genes positioned all Amazonian isolates into T. cruzi I (TCI). However, bat isolates from the other regions, which had been genotyped as T. cruzi II (TC II) by the traditional genotyping method based on mini-exon gene employed in this study, were not nested within any of the previously defined TCII sublineages, constituting a new genotype designated as TCbat. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrated that TCbat indeed belongs to T. cruzi and not to other closely related bat trypanosomes of the subgenus Schizotrypanum, and that although separated by large genetic distances TCbat is closest to lineage TCI. A genotyping method targeting ITS1 rDNA distinguished TCbat from established T. cruzi lineages, and from other Schizotrypanum species. In experimentally infected mice, TCbat lacked virulence and yielded low parasitaemias. Isolates of TCbat presented distinctive morphological features and behaviour in triatomines. To date, TCbat genotype was found only in bats from anthropic environments of Central and Southeast Brazil. Our findings indicate that the complexity of T. cruzi is larger than currently known, and confirmed bats as important reservoirs and potential source of T. cruzi infections to humans.

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*Corresponding author: Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, 05508-900, Brasil. Tel: +55 11 30917268. Fax: +55 11 30917417. E-mail:
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