Experimental infection of two South American reservoirs with four distinct strains of Trypanosoma cruzi

Dawn M. Roellig, Katherine McMillan, Angela E. Ellis, John L. Vandeberg, Donald E. Champagne, Michael J. Yabsley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Trypanosoma cruzi (Tc), the causative agent of Chagas disease, is a diverse species with 2 primary genotypes, TcI and TcII, with TcII further subdivided into 5 subtypes (IIa-e). This study evaluated infection dynamics of 4 genetically and geographically diverse T. cruzi strains in 2 South American reservoirs, degus (Octodon degus) and grey short-tailed opossums (Monodelphis domestica). Based on prior suggestions of a genotype-host association, we hypothesized that degus (placental) would more readily become infected with TcII strains while short-tailed opossums (marsupial) would be a more competent reservoir for a TcI strain. Individuals (n=3) of each species were intraperitoneally inoculated with T. cruzi trypomastigotes of TcIIa [North America (NA)-raccoon (Procyon lotor) origin], TcI [NA-Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana)], TcIIb [South America (SA)-human], TcIIe (SA-Triatoma infestans), or both TcI and TcIIa. Parasitaemias in experimentally infected degus peaked earlier (7-14 days post-inoculation (p.i.)) compared with short-tailed opossums (21-84 days p.i.). Additionally, peak parasitaemias were higher in degus; however, the duration of detectable parasitaemias for all strains, except TcIIa, was greater in short-tailed opossums. Infections established in both host species with all genotypes, except for TcIIa, which did not establish a detectable infection in short-tailed opossums. These results indicate that both South American reservoirs support infections with these isolates from North and South America; however, infection dynamics differed with host and parasite strain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)959-966
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Degu
  • Experimental infection
  • Grey short-tailed opossum
  • Infection dynamics
  • Reservoir host
  • Trypanosoma cruzi
  • Trypanosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Infectious Diseases


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