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Mol Biochem Parasitol. 1990 Mar;39(2):213-25.

The identification of Trypanosoma brucei subspecies using repetitive DNA sequences.

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  • 1Wellcome Unit of Molecular Parasitology, Department of Veterinary Parasitology, Glasgow, U.K.


We describe the use of repetitive DNA probes to characterise the relationships between different stocks of African trypanosomes representing the subspecies of Trypanosoma brucei. Probes derived from the ribosomal RNA genes (coding region and nontranscribed spacer) and another repetitive DNA sequence were used to characterise trypanosome stocks by Southern blotting. Numerical taxonomy methods applied to the resulting restriction enzyme patterns were used to derive a dendrogram depicting the relationships between the stocks examined. We show that three groups of West African human infective stocks can be distinguished: firstly, a group containing exclusively T. b. gambiense; secondly, a group which is indistinguishable from animal isolates in West Africa; and thirdly, a single stock which is indistinguishable from East African T. b. rhodesiense. In addition, we observe that T. b. rhodesiense stocks from East Africa are indistinguishable from animal isolates from the same area. Finally, we show that a group of T. b. rhodesiense stocks, isolated from a 1978 sleeping sickness outbreak in Zambia, are probably derived from a single parasite strain, and that this strain is distinct from T. b. rhodesiense parasites from Kenya and Uganda.

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