The genus Triatoma contains vectors of the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, the pathogen responsible for Chagas disease. The following research presents several inductive studies to develop vector control approaches targeted to the genus or species level. Two-hundred and eighty-two insects were collected, identified, and tested for the presence of T. cruzi. Four species of the Triatoma genus were collected - the overall incidence of T. cruzi was 52% (T. gerstaeckeri -51%, T. lecticularia – 92%, other, 29%). From these 282 insects, the bacterial communities of eight specimens of T. gerstaeckeri were sequenced and analyzed using pyrosequencing technology. The bacterial communities were assigned taxonomy in silica. Bacterial communities were consistent with previous analyses conducted with differing methods, and had low alpha and beta diversity, which makes this system ideal for a targeted vector control approach. Whole genomic mitochondrial DNA was isolated from two species of Triatoma. This mtDNA was then sequenced with a high-thoroughput sequencing platform. The resulting sequence data was assembled de novo and referenced to an existing mitochondrial genome (T. dimidiata, the leading vector of T. cruzi in South America). The mitogenomes were similar, containing approximately 17 000 kbp, similar coding regions, and 30% GC content, suggesting little divergence between the species. A gene deletion in T. lecticularia was found when compared to both T. dimidiata and T. gerstaeckeri, which could be useful in vector control efforts. Results from this research should be used to develop and implement vector control strategies to inhibit the spread of T. cruzi.

Date of publication

Spring 5-27-2015

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