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Parasitology. 2011 Jun;138(7):858-65. doi: 10.1017/S0031182011000485. Epub 2011 Apr 18.

Trypanosomatids are common and diverse parasites of Drosophila.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3EH, UK.
  • 2Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Centre for Immunity, Infection and Evolution, University of Edinburgh, Ashworth Laboratories, Kings Buildings, West Mains Road, Edinburgh EH9 3JT, UK.


Drosophila melanogaster is an important model system of immunity and parasite resistance, yet most studies use parasites that do not naturally infect this organism. We have studied trypanosomatids in natural populations to assess the prevalence and diversity of these gut parasites. We collected several species of Drosophila from Europe and surveyed them for trypanosomatids using conserved primers for two genes. We have used the conserved GAPDH sequence to construct a phylogenetic tree and the highly variable spliced leader RNA to assay genetic diversity. All 5 of the species that we examined were infected, and the average prevalence ranged from 1 to 6%. There are several different groups of trypanosomatids, related to other monoxenous Trypanosomatidae. These may represent new trypanosomatid species and were found in different species of European Drosophila from different geographical locations. The detection of a little studied natural pathogen in D. melanogaster and related species provides new opportunities for research into both the Drosophila immune response and the evolution of hosts and parasites.

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