Interactions among Triatoma sanguisuga blood feeding sources, gut microbiota and Trypanosoma cruzi diversity in southern Louisiana

Mol Ecol. 2020 Oct;29(19):3747-3761. doi: 10.1111/mec.15582. Epub 2020 Aug 20.


Integrating how biodiversity and infectious disease dynamics are linked at multiple levels and scales is highly challenging. Chagas disease is a vector-borne disease, with specificities of the triatomine vectors and Trypanosoma cruzi parasite life histories resulting in a complex multihost and multistrain life cycle. Here, we tested the hypothesis that T. cruzi transmission cycles are shaped by triatomine host communities and gut microbiota composition by comparing the integrated interactions of Triatoma sanguisuga in southern Louisiana with feeding hosts, T. cruzi parasite and bacterial microbiota in two habitats. Bugs were collected from resident's houses and animal shelters and analysed for genetic structure, blood feeding sources, T. cruzi parasites, and bacterial diversity by PCR amplification of specific DNA markers followed by next-generation sequencing, in an integrative metabarcoding approach. T. sanguisuga feeding host communities appeared opportunistic and defined by host abundance in each habitat, yielding distinct parasite transmission networks among hosts. The circulation of a large diversity of T. cruzi DTUs was also detected, with TcII and TcV detected for the first time in triatomines in the US. The bacterial microbiota was highly diverse and varied significantly according to the DTU infecting the bugs, indicating specific interactions among them in the gut. Expanding such studies to multiple habitats and additional triatomine species would be key to further refine our understanding of the complex life cycles of multihost, multistrain parasites such as T. cruzi, and may lead to improved disease control strategies.

Keywords: Chagas disease; host community; kinetoplastid; vector-borne diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chagas Disease*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome* / genetics
  • Louisiana
  • Triatoma* / genetics
  • Trypanosoma cruzi* / genetics