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PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e26984. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026984. Epub 2011 Nov 8.

Post eclosion age predicts the prevalence of midgut trypanosome infections in Glossina.

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  • 1Vector Group, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, United Kingdom.


The teneral phenomenon, as observed in Glossina sp., refers to the increased susceptibility of the fly to trypanosome infection when the first bloodmeal taken is trypanosome-infected. In recent years, the term teneral has gradually become synonymous with unfed, and thus fails to consider the age of the newly emerged fly at the time the first bloodmeal is taken. Furthermore, conflicting evidence exists of the effect of the age of the teneral fly post eclosion when it is given the infected first bloodmeal in determining the infection prevalence. This study demonstrates that it is not the feeding history of the fly but rather the age (hours after eclosion of the fly from the puparium) of the fly when it takes the first (infective) bloodmeal that determines the level of fly susceptibility to trypanosome infection. We examine this phenomenon in male and female flies from two distinct tsetse clades (Glossina morsitans morsitans and Glossina palpalis palpalis) infected with two salivarian trypanosome species, Trypanosoma (Trypanozoon) brucei brucei and Trypanosoma (Nannomonas) congolense using Fisher's exact test to examine differences in infection rates. Teneral tsetse aged less than 24 hours post-eclosion (h.p.e.) are twice as susceptible to trypanosome infection as flies aged 48 h.p.e. This trend is conserved across sex, vector clade and parasite species. The life cycle stage of the parasite fed to the fly (mammalian versus insect form trypanosomes) does not alter this age-related bias in infection. Reducing the numbers of parasites fed to 48 h.p.e., but not to 24 h.p.e. flies, increases teneral refractoriness. The importance of this phenomenon in disease biology in the field as well as the necessity of employing flies of consistent age in laboratory-based infection studies is discussed.

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