Monomorphic trypanozoon: Towards reconciling phylogeny and pathologies

Guy Oldrieve, Mylène Verney, Kamil S Jaron, Laurent Hébert, Keith R Matthews

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trypanosoma brucei evansi and T. brucei equiperdum are animal infective trypanosomes conventionally classified by their clinical disease presentation, mode of transmission, host range, kinetoplast DNA (kDNA) composition and geographical distribution. Unlike other members of the subgenus Trypanozoon, they are non-tsetse transmitted and predominantly morphologically uniform (monomorphic) in their mammalian host. Their classification as independent species or subspecies has been long debated and genomic studies have found that isolates within T. brucei evansi and T. brucei equiperdum have polyphyletic origins. Since current taxonomy does not fully acknowledge these polyphyletic relationships, we re-analysed publicly available genomic data to carefully define each clade of monomorphic trypanosome. This allowed us to identify, and account for, lineage-specific variation. We included a recently published isolate, IVM-t1, which was originally isolated from the genital mucosa of a horse with dourine and typed as T. equiperdum. Our analyses corroborate previous studies in identifying at least four distinct monomorphic T. brucei clades. We also found clear lineage-specific variation in the selection efficacy and heterozygosity of the monomorphic lineages, supporting their distinct evolutionary histories. The inferred evolutionary position of IVM-t1 suggests its reassignment to the T. brucei evansi type B clade, challenging the relationship between the Trypanozoon species, the infected host, mode of transmission and the associated pathological phenotype. The analysis of IVM-t1 also provides, to our knowledge, the first evidence of the expansion of T. brucei evansi type B, or a fifth monomorphic lineage represented by IVM-t1, outside of Africa, with important possible implications for disease diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages10
JournalMicrobial Genomics
Issue number8
Early online date16 Aug 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Aug 2021


  • asexual
  • monomorphism
  • selection efficacy
  • trypanosoma brucei


Dive into the research topics of 'Monomorphic trypanozoon: Towards reconciling phylogeny and pathologies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this