Trypanosomatid Biodiversity in Costa Rica: Genotyping of Parasites From Heteroptera Using the Spliced Leader RNA Gene

Parasitology. 2004 Nov;129(Pt 5):537-47. doi: 10.1017/s003118200400592x.


The biodiversity of insect trypanosomes is largely unknown, resulting in significant gaps in the understanding of pathogen evolution. A culture-independent preliminary survey of trypanosomatid fauna was conducted for the parasites of Heteroptera (Hemiptera) from several localities in Costa Rica. Trypanosomatid infections were detected by light microscopy of smeared gut contents. Out of 257 insects representing 6 families, infections were found in 62 cases; cultures were obtained for 29 new isolates. Gut material from infected hosts was preserved in the field using an SDS-EDTA buffer solution for subsequent DNA extraction in the laboratory. PCR amplification of the trypanosomatid-specific spliced leader (SL) RNA gene repeats was successful for 60 field samples. Eighteen distinct SL RNA typing units were identified in a set of 28 samples analysed in detail. Cluster analysis indicated that these typing units were unique and thus could represent new species and, in some cases, new genera. This study reveals only a minor fraction of the trypanosomatid biodiversity, which is anticipated to be high.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Biodiversity*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • Costa Rica
  • DNA, Protozoan / analysis
  • Exons
  • Gene Amplification
  • Genotype
  • Heteroptera / parasitology*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Protozoan / genetics
  • RNA, Spliced Leader / genetics*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Trypanosomatina / classification*
  • Trypanosomatina / genetics
  • Trypanosomatina / isolation & purification*


  • DNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Protozoan
  • RNA, Spliced Leader