Hindgut microbiota in laboratory-reared and wild Triatoma infestans

Andreea Waltmann, Alexandra C. Willcox, Sujata Balasubramanian, Katty Borrini Mayori, Sandra Mendoza Guerrero, Renzo S. Salazar Sanchez, Jeffrey Roach, Carlos Condori Pino, Robert H. Gilman, Caryn Bern, Jonathan J. Juliano, Michael Z. Levy, Steven R. Meshnick, Natalie M. Bowman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Triatomine vectors transmit Trypanosoma cruzi, the etiological agent of Chagas disease in humans. Transmission to humans typically occurs when contaminated triatomine feces come in contact with the bite site or mucosal membranes. In the Southern Cone of South America, where the highest burden of disease exists, Triatoma infestans is the principal vector for T. cruzi. Recent studies of other vector-borne illnesses have shown that arthropod microbiota influences the ability of infectious agents to colonize the insect vector and transmit to the human host. This has garnered attention as a potential control strategy against T. cruzi, as vector control is the main tool of Chagas disease prevention. Here we characterized the microbiota in T. infestans feces of both wild-caught and laboratory-reared insects and examined the relationship between microbial composition and T. cruzi infection using highly sensitive high-throughput sequencing technology to sequence the V3-V4 region of the 16S ribosomal RNA gene on the MiSeq Illumina platform. We collected 59 wild (9 with T. cruzi infection) and 10 lab-reared T. infestans (4 with T. cruzi infection) from the endemic area of Arequipa, Perú. Wild T. infestans had greater hindgut bacterial diversity than laboratory-reared bugs. Microbiota of lab insects comprised a subset of those identified in their wild counterparts, with 96 of the total 124 genera also observed in laboratory-reared insects. Among wild insects, variation in bacterial composition was observed, but time and location of collection and development stage did not explain this variation. T. cruzi infection in lab insects did not affect α-or β-diversity; however, we did find that the β-diversity of wild insects differed if they were infected with T. cruzi and identified 10 specific taxa that had significantly different relative abundances in infected vs. uninfected wild T. infestans (Bosea, Mesorhizo-bium, Dietzia, and Cupriavidus were underrepresented in infected bugs; Sporosarcina, an unclassified genus of Porphyromonadaceae, Nestenrenkonia, Alkalibacterium, Peptoniphi-lus, Marinilactibacillus were overrepresented in infected bugs). Our findings suggest that T. cruzi infection is associated with the microbiota of T. infestans and that inferring the microbiota of wild T. infestans may not be possible through sampling of T. infestans reared in the insectary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0007383
JournalPLoS neglected tropical diseases
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases


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