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Trypanosomes of birds and reptiles: diversity, phylogenetic relationships, eco-biogeographical patterns and evolution

Grant number: 19/01240-1
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): November 01, 2019
Effective date (End): January 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Parasitology - Protozoology of Parasites
Principal Investigator:Erney Felicio Plessmann de Camargo
Grantee:Bruno Rafael Fermino
Host Institution: Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas (ICB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Protists of the genus Trypanosoma are parasites of all vertebrate classes divided into two phylogenetic lineages: Aquatic clade, comprising trypanosomes of mammals, snakes, lizards, crocodilians and birds, transmitted by a variety of hematophagous arthropods; Terrestrial clade, harbouring trypanosomes of vertebrates of aquatic environments such as fish, anurans, turtles and crocodilians, transmitted by leeches. Little is known trypanosomes parasites of birds and reptiles. Recent phylogenetic analyses based on a limited number of taxa revealed quite complex relations between trypanosome parasites of birds, lizards, snakes and mammals. This information has contributed to the understanding of evolutionary processes as host-switching and ecological fitting that have shaped the whole Trypanosoma. In contrast to mammalian trypanosomes, we know very little about the range of vertebrate hosts and vectors, geographical range and genetic diversity of trypanosomes of birds and reptiles. Knowledge on the diversity and phylogenetic relationships of these trypanosomes, and their relationships with their vertebrate hosts and vectors are fundamental to propose plausible evolutionary scenarios and hypotheses for the genus Trypanosoma. To this end, comprehensive studies are required, from field surveys to comparative genomics of a significant number of taxa classified according to modern taxonomic parameters. Altogether, these data will enable the revision of the whole taxonomy of Trypanosoma. With these goals, in this study, a collection of new trypanosome parasites of birds and reptiles from South America and Africa will be examined regarding morphological characteristics, growth behaviours, DNA barcoding, phylogenetic relationships and eco-, bio- and phylogeographical patterns. Multigenic phylogenies will be inferred with genes obtained from genomes available in our collection in addition to genomes from bird trypanosomes that will be sequenced during this project. (AU)

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