Evidence of substantial recombination among Trypanosoma cruzi II strains from Minas Gerais

Rodrigo de Paula Baptista, Daniella Alchaar D'Ávila, Marcela Segatto, Ítalo Faria do Valle, Glória Regina Franco, Helder Magno Silva Valadares, Eliane Dias Gontijo, Lúcia Maria da Cunha Galvão, Sérgio Danilo Junho Pena, Egler Chiari, Carlos Renato Machado, Andréa Mara Macedo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Due to the scarcity of evidence of sexuality in Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease, it has been general accepted that the parasite reproduction is essentially clonal with infrequent genetic recombination. This assumption is mainly supported by indirect evidence, such as Hardy-Weinberg imbalances, linkage disequilibrium and a strong correlation between independent sets of genetic markers of T. cruzi populations. However, because the analyzed populations are usually isolated from different geographic regions, the possibility of population substructuring as generating these genetic marker imbalances cannot be eliminated. To investigate this possibility, we firstly compared the allele frequencies and haplotype networks using seven different polymorphic loci (two from mitochondrial and five from different nuclear chromosomes) in two groups of TcII strains: one including isolates obtained from different regions in Latin America and the other including isolates obtained only from patients of the Minas Gerais State in Brazil. Our hypothesis was that if the population structure is essentially clonal, Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium and a sharp association between the clusters generated by analyzing independent markers should be observed in both strain groups, independent of the geographic origin of the samples. The results demonstrated that the number of microsatellite loci in linkage disequilibrium decreased from 4 to 1 when only strains from Minas Gerais were analyzed. Moreover, we did not observed any correlation between the clusters when analyzing the nuclear and mitochondrial loci, suggesting independent inheritance of these markers among the Minas Gerais strains. Besides, using a second subset of five physically linked microsatellite loci and the Minas Gerais strains, we could also demonstrate evidence of homologous recombination roughly proportional to the relative distance among them. Taken together, our results do not support a clonal population structure for T. cruzi, particularly in TcII, which coexists in the same geographical area, suggesting that genetic exchanges among these strains may occur more frequently than initially expected.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-191
Number of pages9
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Clonality
  • Population substructuring
  • Recombination
  • Sex reproduction
  • Trypanosoma cruzi II
  • Wahlund effect

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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