Sympatric western lowland gorillas, central chimpanzees and humans are infected with different trichomonads

Parasitology. 2020 Feb;147(2):225-230. doi: 10.1017/S0031182019001343. Epub 2019 Oct 7.


We investigated intestinal trichomonads in western lowland gorillas, central chimpanzees and humans cohabiting the forest ecosystem of Dzanga-Sangha Protected Area in Central African Republic, using the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) region and SSU rRNA gene sequences. Trichomonads belonging to the genus Tetratrichomonas were detected in 23% of the faecal samples and in all host species. Different hosts were infected with different genotypes of Tetratrichomonas. In chimpanzees, we detected tetratrichomonads from 'novel lineage 2', which was previously reported mostly in captive and wild chimpanzees. In gorillas, we found two different genotypes of Tetratrichomonas. The ITS region sequences of the more frequent genotype were identical to the sequence found in a faecal sample of a wild western lowland gorilla from Cameroon. Sequences of the second genotype from gorillas were almost identical to sequences previously obtained from an anorexic French woman. We provide the first report of the presence of intestinal tetratrichomonads in asymptomatic, apparently healthy humans. Human tetratrichomonads belonged to the lineage 7, which was previously reported in domestic and wild pigs and a domestic horse. Our findings suggest that the ecology and spatial overlap among hominids in the tropical forest ecosystem has not resulted in exchange of intestinal trichomonads among these hosts.

Keywords: Chimpanzee; Parabasalia; Tetratrichomonas; gorilla; human; transmission; trichomonads.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Ape Diseases / epidemiology
  • Ape Diseases / parasitology*
  • Central African Republic / epidemiology
  • Feces / parasitology
  • Gorilla gorilla / parasitology*
  • Host Specificity
  • Humans
  • Pan troglodytes / parasitology*
  • Phylogeny
  • Protozoan Infections / epidemiology
  • Protozoan Infections / parasitology*
  • Protozoan Infections, Animal / epidemiology
  • Protozoan Infections, Animal / parasitology*
  • Trichomonadida / classification*