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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2019 Jul 10;13(7):e0007527. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0007527. eCollection 2019 Jul.

Isolation and characterization of trypanosomatids, including Crithidia mellificae, in bats from the Atlantic Forest of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Laboratório de Biologia de Tripanosomatídeos, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Brazil.
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Biodiversidade e Biologia Evolutiva, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Brazil.
Fiocruz Mata Atlântica, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Brazil.
Programa de Pós-Graduação em Ecologia e Evolução, Departamento de Ecologia, Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro/RJ, Brazil.


We studied infection by Trypanosomatidae in bats captured in two areas with different degradation levels in the Atlantic Forest of Rio de Janeiro state: Reserva Ecológica de Guapiaçu (REGUA) and Estação Fiocruz Mata Atlântica (EFMA). Furthermore, we evaluated whether the diversity of trypanosomatids changes according to bat diversity and the different levels of preservation in the region. The results showed no influence of the level of preservation on bat species richness (15 and 14 species, respectively), with similar chiropterofauna and higher abundance of two common fruit-eating bat species in the tropics: Carollia perspicillata and Artibeus lituratus. Of the 181 bat specimens analyzed by LIT/Schneider hemoculture, we detected 24 infected individuals (13%), including one positive Sturnira lilium individual that was also positive by fresh blood examination. Molecular characterization using nested PCR targeting the 18 SSU rRNA-encoding gene fragment showed similar trypanosomatid infection rates in bats from the two areas: 15% in REGUA and 11% in EFMA (p = 0.46). Trypanosoma dionisii was the most frequently detected parasite (54%), followed by T. cruzi DTUs TcI and TcIV and Trypanosoma sp., in Neotropical phyllostomid bats (RNMO63 and RNMO56); mixed infections by T. dionisii/T. cruzi TcIII and T. dionisii/T. cruzi TcI were also observed. The T. cruzi DTUs TcI and TcIV are the genotypes currently involved in cases of acute Chagas disease in Brazil, and T. dionisii was recently found in the heart tissue of an infected child. Surprisingly, we also describe for the first time Crithidia mellificae, a putative monoxenous parasite from insects, infecting a vertebrate host in the Americas. Bats from the Atlantic Forest of Rio de Janeiro state harbor a great diversity of trypanosomatids, maintaining trypanosomatid diversity in this sylvatic environment.

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Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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