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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2001 Jun 19;98(13):7396-401.

Nucleotide sequences provide evidence of genetic exchange among distantly related lineages of Trypanosoma cruzi.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. machado@mbcl.rutgers.edu


Simple phylogenetic tests were applied to a large data set of nucleotide sequences from two nuclear genes and a region of the mitochondrial genome of Trypanosoma cruzi, the agent of Chagas' disease. Incongruent gene genealogies manifest genetic exchange among distantly related lineages of T. cruzi. Two widely distributed isoenzyme types of T. cruzi are hybrids, their genetic composition being the likely result of genetic exchange between two distantly related lineages. The data show that the reference strain for the T. cruzi genome project (CL Brener) is a hybrid. Well-supported gene genealogies show that mitochondrial and nuclear gene sequences from T. cruzi cluster, respectively, in three or four distinct clades that do not fully correspond to the two previously defined major lineages of T. cruzi. There is clear genetic differentiation among the major groups of sequences, but genetic diversity within each major group is low. We estimate that the major extant lineages of T. cruzi have diverged during the Miocene or early Pliocene (3-16 million years ago).

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