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Unravelling the phylogenetic relationships of African trypanosomes of suids

  • W. C. GIBSON (a1), J. R. STEVENS (a2), C. M. T. MWENDIA (a3), J. N. MAKUMI (a3), J. M. NGOTHO (a3) and J. M. NDUNG'U (a3)...

African trypanosomes of the subgenera Nannomonas and Pycnomonas have been recorded from both wild and domestic suids. However, complete descriptions of some of these trypanosomes with regard to host range, pathogenicity, transmission and distribution are still lacking. Neither the recently described Trypanosoma (Nannomonas) godfreyi nor Trypanosoma (Nannomonas) congolense Tsavo have been isolated from mammalian hosts, while Trypanosoma (Pycnomonas) suis remains the rarest of the Salivarian trypanosomes. The only isolate presumed to be of the latter species is maintained at the Kenya Trypanosomiasis Research Institute, Nairobi. We present here the results of characterization of this isolate by morphology, tsetse transmission, the use of species-specific DNA probes and DNA sequence analysis. Morphology in stained blood smears revealed a small trypanosome with a free flagellum. Experimental transmission through Glossina morsitans morsitans showed a developmental cycle typical of subgenus Nannomonas. A positive identification was obtained with species-specific PCR primers for T. congolense Tsavo; moreover, the sequence of the SSU rRNA gene was almost identical to that of T. congolense Tsavo on database. In phylogenetic analysis of the SSU rRNA genes of Salivarian trypanosomes, T. congolense Tsavo grouped with T. simiae rather than T. congolense, suggesting that the name T. simiae Tsavo is more appropriate.

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Corresponding author: School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG, UK. Tel: +0117 9288249. Fax: +0117 9257374. E-mail:
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