Background. Genetic exchange occurs between Trypanosoma brucei strains during the complex developmental cycle in the tsetse vector, probably within the salivary glands. Successful mating will depend on the dynamics of co-infection with multiple strains, particularly if intraspecific competition occurs. We have previously used T. brucei expressing green fluorescent protein to study parasite development in the vector, enabling even one trypanosome to be visualized. Here we have used two different trypanosome strains transfected with either green or red fluorescent proteins to study the dynamics of co-infection directly in the tsetse fly. Results. The majority of infected flies had both trypanosome strains present in the midgut, but the relative proportion of red and green trypanosome strains varied considerably between flies and between different sections of the midgut in individual flies. Colonization of the paired salivary glands revealed greater variability than for midguts, as each gland could be infected with red and/or green trypanosome strains in variable proportions. Salivary glands with a mixed infection appeared to have a higher density of trypanosomes than glands containing a single strain. Comparison of the numbers of red and green trypanosomes in the proventriculus, salivary exudate and glands from individual flies showed no correlation between the composition of the trypanosome population of the proventriculus and foregut and that of the salivary glands. For each compartment examined (midgut, foregut, salivary glands), there was a significantly higher proportion of mixed infections than expected, assuming the null hypothesis that the development of each trypanosome strain is independent. Conclusion. Both the trypanosome strains used were fully capable of infecting tsetse, but the probabilities of infection with each strain were not independent, there being a significantly higher proportion of mixed infections than expected in each of three compartments examined: midgut, proventriculus and salivary glands. Hence there was no evidence of competition between trypanosome strains, but instead co-infection was frequent. Infection rates in co-infected flies were no different to those found routinely in flies infected with a single strain, ruling out the possibility that one strain enhanced infection with the other. We infer that each fly is either permissive or non-permissive of trypanosome infection with at least 3 sequential checkpoints imposed by the midgut, proventriculus and salivary glands. Salivary glands containing both trypanosome strains appeared to contain more trypanosomes than singly-infected glands, suggesting that lack of competition enhances the likelihood of genetic exchange.
|Translated title of the contribution||Dynamics of infection and competition between two strains of Trypanosoma brucei brucei in the tsetse fly observed using fluorescent markers|
|Pages (from-to)||1 - 10|
|Number of pages||10|
|Journal||Kinetoplastid Biology and Disease|
|Publication status||Published - Jun 2007|