Evidence based methods of vector control make significant contributions to reducing disease incidence. Cutting-edge genomics data can inform vector control strategies by providing information on high resolution mapping of vector movement to identifying targets for development of insecticides and other biocontrol methods. Chagas disease (American Trypanosomiasis) is the neglected tropical disease with the highest social and economic impact in Latin America. This illness, caused by the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi (Kinetoplastea: Trypanosomatida), is transmitted by insects of the subfamily Triatominae (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) with most of the main vector species belonging to the genus Triatoma. Despite the impact of this disease, very little information is known about the genetics and physiological characteristics that lead to differences in epidemiological importance between the Triatominae species. The most important vector of this zoonosis is Triatoma infestans, which colonizes houses throughout its whole geographic distribution and, despite control efforts, remains a public health problem in many of the poorest areas, due to its sylvatic foci. Laying the groundwork for modern studies of genetic characteristics contributing to epidemiological relevance, domestication and vector control efforts, we propose to sequence, assemble and annotate the genome of T. infestans, in collaboration with VectorBase. The genome combined with developmental transcriptome data will then be used to identify potential targets for vector control through insecticides and RNAi. These studies will enable researchers to move research on Chagas disease to the standards of other serious neglected diseases.

Public Health Relevance

Genomic analysis provide one of the strongest approaches to targeted control of disease vectors, yet genomic resources are lacking for insect vectors of many neglected tropical diseases, including Chagas disease (American Trypanosomiasis) the parasitic disease with the highest social and economic impact in Latin America. This proposal will: (1) provide the means for future cutting-edge studies of potential targets for control efforts by sequencing, assembling and annotating the genome of T. infestans, in collaboration with VectorBase and (2) use the genome together with comparative transcriptome sequencing to lay the groundwork for identifying targets for vector control.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Small Research Grants (R03)
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Vector Biology Study Section (VB)
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Costero-Saint Denis, Adriana
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University of Vermont & St Agric College
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Gallant, Joseph P; Lima-Cordón, Raquel Asunción; Justi, Silvia A et al. (2018) The role of natural selection in shaping genetic variation in a promising Chagas disease drug target: Trypanosoma cruzi trans-sialidase. Infect Genet Evol 62:151-159
Justi, Silvia A; Cahan, Sara; Stevens, Lori et al. (2018) Vectors of diversity: Genome wide diversity across the geographic range of the Chagas disease vector Triatoma dimidiata sensu lato (Hemiptera: Reduviidae). Mol Phylogenet Evol 120:144-150
Keller, Judith I; Ballif, Bryan A; St Clair, Riley M et al. (2017) Chagas disease vector blood meal sources identified by protein mass spectrometry. PLoS One 12:e0189647
Justi, Silvia A; Galvão, Cleber (2017) The Evolutionary Origin of Diversity in Chagas Disease Vectors. Trends Parasitol 33:42-52