Expanding our knowledge on African trypanosomes of the subgenus Pycnomonas: A novel Trypanosoma suis-like in tsetse flies, livestock and wild ruminants sympatric with Trypanosoma suis in Mozambique

Carla Rodrigues, Herakles Garcia, Adriana Rodrigues, Dagmar Pereira, Carlos Pereira, Laerte Viola, Luis Neves, Erney Camargo, Wendy C Gibson, Marta Teixeira

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Among the subgenera of African tsetse-transmitted trypanosomes pathogenic to livestock, the least known is the subgenus Pycnomonas, which contains a single species, Trypanosoma suis (TSU), a pathogen of domestic pigs first reported in 1905 and recently rediscovered in Tanzania and Mozambique. Analysis by Fluorescent Fragment Length Barcoding (FFLB) revealed an infection rate of 20.3% (108 out of 530 tsetse flies) in a recent study in the Gorongosa and Niassa wildlife reserves in Mozambique, and demonstrated two groups of Pycnomonas trypanosomes: one (14.1%, 75 flies) showing an FFLB profile identical to the reference TSU from Tanzania, and the other (6.2%, 33 flies) differing slightly from reference TSU and designated Trypanosoma suis-like (TSU-L). Phylogenetic analyses tightly clustered TSU and TSU-L from Mozambique with TSU from Tanzania forming the clade Pycnomonas positioned between the subgenera Trypanozoon and Nannomonas. Our preliminarily exploration of host ranges of Pycnomonas trypanosomes revealed TSU exclusively in warthogs while TSU-L was identified, for the first time for a member of the subgenus Pycnomonas, in ruminants (antelopes, Cape buffalo, and in domestic cattle and goats). The preferential blood meal sources of tsetse flies harbouring TSU and TSU-L were wild suids, and most of these flies concomitantly harboured the porcine trypanosomes T. simiae, T. simiae Tsavo, and T. godfreyi. Therefore, our findings support the link of TSU with suids while TSU-L remains to be comprehensively investigated in these hosts. Our results greatly expand our knowledge of the diversity, hosts, vectors, and epidemiology of Pycnomonas trypanosomes. Due to shortcomings of available molecular diagnostic methods, a relevant cohort of trypanosomes transmitted by tsetse flies to ungulates, especially suids, has been neglected or most likely misidentified. The method employed in the present study enables an accurate discrimination of trypanosome species and genotypes and, hence, a re-evaluation of the “lost” subgenus Pycnomonas and of porcine trypanosomes in general, the most neglected group of African trypanosomes pathogenic to ungulates.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104143
Number of pages10
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Early online date16 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • African animal trypanosomiasis
  • Porcine trypanosomes
  • Neglected parasites
  • Molecular epidemiology
  • DNA barcoding
  • Taxonomy

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