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The Genetic Structure of Leishmania infantum Populations in Brazil and Its Possible Association with the Transmission Cycle of Visceral Leishmaniasis

By Gabriel Eduardo Melim Ferreira, Barbara Neves dos Santos, Maria Elizabeth Cavalheiros Dorval, Tereza Pompilio Bastos Ramos, Renato Porrozzi, Alexandre Afranio Peixoto and Elisa Cupolillo


Leishmania infantum is the etiologic agent of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in the Americas, Mediterranean basin and West and Central Asia. Although the geographic structure of L. infantum populations from the Old World have been described, few studies have addressed the population structure of this parasite in the Neotropical region. We employed 14 microsatellites to analyze the population structure of the L. infantum strains isolated from humans and dogs from most of the Brazilian states endemic for VL and from Paraguay. The results indicate a low genetic diversity, high inbreeding estimates and a depletion of heterozygotes, which together indicate a predominantly clonal breeding system, but signs of sexual events are also present. Three populations were identified from the clustering analysis, and they were well supported by F statistics inferences and partially corroborated by distance-based. POP1 (111 strains) was observed in all but one endemic area. POP2 (31 strains) is also well-dispersed, but it was the predominant population in Mato Grosso (MT). POP3 (31 strains) was less dispersed, and it was observed primarily in Mato Grosso do Sul (MS). Strains originated from an outbreak of canine VL in Southern Brazil were grouped in POP1 with those from Paraguay, which corroborates the hypothesis of dispersal from Northeastern Argentina and Paraguay. The distribution of VL in MS seems to follow the west-east construction of the Bolivia-Brazil pipeline from Corumbá municipality. This may have resulted in a strong association of POP3 and Lutzomyia cruzi, which is the main VL vector in Corumbá, and a dispersion of this population in this region that was shaped by human interference. This vector also occurs in MT and may influence the structure of POP2. This paper presents significant advances in the understanding of the population structure of L. infantum in Brazil and its association with eco-epidemiological aspects of VL

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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