Trypanosoma cruzi - the vector-parasite paradox

Mem Inst Oswaldo Cruz. Jul-Aug 2000;95(4):535-44. doi: 10.1590/s0074-02762000000400016.


Trypanosoma cruzi and the majority of its insect vectors (Hemiptera, Reduviidae, Triatominae) are confined to the Americas. But while recent molecular studies indicate a relatively ancient origin for the parasite ( approximately 65 million years ago) there is increasing evidence that the blood-sucking triatomine vectors have evolved comparatively recently (<5 mya). This review examines the evidence for these ideas, and attempts to reconcile the apparent paradox by suggesting that marsupial opossums (Didelphidae) may have played a role, not just as original reservoir hosts, but also as original vectors of the parasite.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Insect Vectors / parasitology*
  • Triatominae / parasitology*
  • Trypanosoma cruzi / physiology*