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Phylogeny of snake trypanosomes inferred by SSU rDNA sequences, their possible transmission by phlebotomines, and taxonomic appraisal by molecular, cross-infection and morphological analysis

  • L. B. VIOLA (a1), M. CAMPANER (a1), C. S. A. TAKATA (a1), R. C. FERREIRA (a1), A. C. RODRIGUES (a1), R. A. FREITAS (a2), M. R. DUARTE (a3), K. F. GREGO (a3), T. V. BARRETT (a2), E. P. CAMARGO (a1) and M. M. G. TEIXEIRA (a1)...


Blood examination by microhaematocrit and haemoculture of 459 snakes belonging to 37 species revealed 2·4% trypanosome prevalence in species of Viperidae (Crotalus durissus and Bothrops jararaca) and Colubridae (Pseudoboa nigra). Trypanosome cultures from C. durissus and P. nigra were behaviourally and morphologically indistinguishable. In addition, the growth and morphological features of a trypanosome from the sand fly Viannamyia tuberculata were similar to those of snake isolates. Cross-infection experiments revealed a lack of host restriction, as snakes of 3 species were infected with the trypanosome from C. durissus. Phylogeny based on ribosomal sequences revealed that snake trypanosomes clustered together with the sand fly trypanosome, forming a new phylogenetic lineage within Trypanosoma closest to a clade of lizard trypanosomes transmitted by sand flies. The clade of trypanosomes from snakes and lizards suggests an association between the evolutionary histories of these trypanosomes and their squamate hosts. Moreover, data strongly indicated that these trypanosomes are transmitted by sand flies. The flaws of the current taxonomy of snake trypanosomes are discussed, and the need for molecular parameters to be adopted is emphasized. To our knowledge, this is the first molecular phylogenetic study of snake trypanosomes.


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*Corresponding author: Department of Parasitology, Institute of Biomedical Sciences, University of São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, 05508-900, Brazil. Tel: +55 11 3091 7268. Fax: +55 11 3091 7417. E-mail:


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Phylogeny of snake trypanosomes inferred by SSU rDNA sequences, their possible transmission by phlebotomines, and taxonomic appraisal by molecular, cross-infection and morphological analysis

  • L. B. VIOLA (a1), M. CAMPANER (a1), C. S. A. TAKATA (a1), R. C. FERREIRA (a1), A. C. RODRIGUES (a1), R. A. FREITAS (a2), M. R. DUARTE (a3), K. F. GREGO (a3), T. V. BARRETT (a2), E. P. CAMARGO (a1) and M. M. G. TEIXEIRA (a1)...


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