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Phenotypic characterization and genomic analysis of Crithidia-like parasites obtained from patients diagnosed with Visceral Leishmaniasis

Grant number: 20/14011-8
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Parasitology - Protozoology of Parasites
Principal researcher:Sandra Regina Costa Maruyama
Grantee:Luana Aparecida Rogerio
Home Institution: Centro de Ciências Biológicas e da Saúde (CCBS). Universidade Federal de São Carlos (UFSCAR). São Carlos , SP, Brazil
Associated research grant:16/20258-0 - Visceral leishmaniasis: genomics approaches for integrated molecular analysis of host and parasite, AP.JP
Associated scholarship(s):21/12715-0 - Assessing the vectorial capacity of Lutzomia longipalpis sand fly as possible vector for crithidia-like parasites, BE.EP.DD


Leishmaniasis is a group of neglected anthropozoonotic diseases that can be caused by over 20 species of protozoa from genus Leishmania. Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL), focus of this project, is a serious form of the disease that can be fatal if untreated or misdiagnosed. Brazil is an endemic country for VL, where the most cases occur in the Brazilian Northeast. However, recently VL has spread to several regions, including in the state of São Paulo, with potential to become a serious Public Health problem soon. VL is caused by species L. infantum. Interestingly, preliminary results have shown that clinical isolates of VL obtained from an endemic region in the Northeast region do not belong to the genus Leishmania and are phylogenetically more related to the genus Crithidia. This genus belongs to the group of monoxenic trypanosomatids, i.e., they infect only one host, in this case, invertebrates. Crithidia only infects insects and is considered non-pathogenic to humans. In order to evaluate these clinical isolates Crithidia-like, this project aims to characterize phenotypically and analyze the genome of these parasites. For this, cultures of promastigote forms will be analyzed for growth curve and morphological parameters, as well as in vitro infectivity. The genomic DNA will be sequenced and through different Bioinformatics tools, the genome will be assembled and compared to other trypanosomatids species. (AU)

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