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Evaluation of the multispecies coalescent method to explore intra-Trypanosoma cruzi I relationships and genetic diversity

  • César Gómez-Hernández (a1), Sergio D. Pérez (a2), Karine Rezende-Oliveira (a3), Cecilia G. Barbosa (a1), Eliane Lages-Silva (a1), Luis Eduardo Ramírez (a1) and Juan David Ramírez (a2)...


Chagas Disease is a zoonosis caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. Several high-resolution markers have subdivided T. cruzi taxon into at least seven lineages or Discrete Typing Units (DTUs) (TcI-TcVI and TcBat). Trypanosoma cruzi I is the most diverse and geographically widespread DTU. Recently a TcI genotype related to domestic cycles was proposed and named as TcIDOM. Herein, we combined traditional markers and housekeeping genes and applied a Multispecies Coalescent method to explore intra-TcI relationships, lineage boundaries and genetic diversity in a random set of isolates and DNA sequences retrieved from Genbank from different countries in the Americas. We found further evidence supporting TcIDOM as an independent and emerging genotype of TcI at least in Colombia and Venezuela. We also found evidence of high phylogenetic incongruence between parasite's gene trees (including introgression) and embedded species trees, and a lack of genetic structure among geography and hosts, illustrating the complex dynamics and epidemiology of TcI across the Americas. These findings provide novel insights into T. cruzi systematics and epidemiology and support the need to assess parasite diversity and lineage boundaries through hypothesis testing using different approaches to those traditionally employed, including the Bayesian Multispecies coalescent method.


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Author for correspondence: Juan David Ramírez, E-mail:


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