Trypanosoma cruzi, causative agent of Chagas disease, co-infects its triatomine vector with its sister species Trypanosoma rangeli, which shares 60% of its antigens with T. cruzi. Additionally, T. rangeli has been observed to be pathogenic in some of its vector species. Although T. cruzi-T. rangeli co-infections are common, their effect on the vector has rarely been investigated. Therefore, we measured the fitness (survival and reproduction) of triatomine species Rhodnius prolixus infected with just T. cruzi, just T. rangeli, or both T. cruzi and T. rangeli. We found that survival (as estimated by survival probability and hazard ratios) was significantly different between treatments, with the T. cruzi treatment group having lower survival than the co-infected treatment. Reproduction and total fitness estimates in the T. cruzi and T. rangeli treatments were significantly lower than in the co-infected and control groups. The T. cruzi and T. rangeli treatment group fitness estimates were not significantly different from each other. Additionally, co-infected insects appeared to tolerate higher doses of parasites than insects with single-species infections. Our results suggest that T. cruzi-T. rangeli co-infection could ameliorate negative effects of single infections of either parasite on R. prolixus and potentially help it to tolerate higher parasite doses.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Animal Science and Zoology
- Infectious Diseases