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Fluorescent markers to distinguish Trypanosoma brucei strains causing Sleeping Sickness

e population sizes of differently labelled T. brucei strains or subspecies it allows detailed and efficient tracking of multiple-genotype infections within a single host or vector individual, enabling more powerful studies on parasite dynamics. In addition, it also provides a simple way to separate genotypes after experimental mixed infections, to measure responses of the single strains to an applied treatment, thus eliminating the need for laborious cloning steps.

The markers presented in this study broaden the spectrum of tools available for experimental studies on multiple-genotype infections. They are fundamentally different from isoenzyme analysis and other genotyping approaches in that they allow the distinction of parasite genotypes based on an easily recognizable phenotypic trait.

The authors conclude that the distinction of live parasites based on an easily recognized phenotypic trait and the physical separation of genotypes from mixed infections made possible by live fluorescence markers make trypanosomes an attractive system for experimental studies on parasite population dynamics. The marker described in this study will be especially important by opening new avenues of research on the ecology and evolution of mixed trypanosome infections and their implications for disease dynamics and control. The authors assert that they will be of specific interest to researches addressing ecological, evolutionary and epidemiological questions using trypanosomes as an experimental system.
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