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Molecular characterization of field isolates of human pathogenic trypanosomes

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The accurate identification of each of the three subspecies of Trypanosoma brucei remains a challenging problem in the epidemiology of sleeping sickness. Advances in molecular characterization have revealed a much greater degree of heterogeneity within the species than previously supposed. Only group 1 T. b. gambiense stands out as a separate entity, defined by several molecular markers. T. b. rhodesiense is generally too similar to sympatric T. b. brucei strains to be distinguished from them by any particular molecular markers. Nevertheless, characterization of trypanosome isolates from humans and other animals has allowed the identification of potential reservoir hosts of T. b. rhodesiense. The recent discovery of a gene for human serum resistance may provide a useful marker for T. b. rhodesiense in the future. There have been few attempts to find associations between genetic markers and other biological characters, except human infectivity. However, virulence or fly transmissibility have been correlated with molecular markers in some instances.

Keywords: Trypanosoma brucei gambiense; Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense; drug resistance; epidemiology; genetic markers

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: School of Biological Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol, UK

Publication date: 2001-05-01

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