Main content area

A reduction in ecological niche for Trypanosoma cruzi-infected triatomine bugs

Villalobos, Guiehdani, Nava-Bolaños, Angela, De Fuentes-Vicente, José A., Téllez-Rendón, Juan Luis, Huerta, Herón, Martínez-Hernández, Fernando, Rocha-Ortega, Maya, Gutiérrez-Cabrera, Ana E., Ibarra-Cerdeña, Carlos N., Córdoba-Aguilar, Alex
Parasites & vectors 2019 v.12 no.1 pp. 240
Chagas disease, Triatoma dimidiata, Trypanosoma cruzi, geographical distribution, hosts, insects, models, niches, parasites, prediction, vector-borne diseases, Mexico
BACKGROUND: Theory predicts that parasites can affect and thus drive their hosts’ niche. Testing this prediction is key, especially for vector-borne diseases including Chagas disease. Here, we examined the niche use of seven triatomine species that occur in Mexico, based on whether they are infected or not with Trypanosoma cruzi, the vectors and causative parasites of Chagas disease, respectively. Presence data for seven species of triatomines (Triatoma barberi, T. dimidiata, T. longipennis, T. mazzottii, T. pallidipennis, T. phyllosoma and T. picturata) were used and divided into populations infected and not infected by T. cruzi. Species distribution models were generated with Maxent 3.3.3k. Using distribution models, niche analysis tests of amplitude and distance to centroids were carried out for infected vs non-infected populations within species. RESULTS: Infected populations of bugs of six out of the seven triatomine species showed a reduced ecological space compared to non-infected populations. In all but one case (T. pallidipennis), the niche used by infected populations was close to the niche centroid of its insect host. CONCLUSIONS: Trypanosoma cruzi may have selected for a restricted niche amplitude in triatomines, although we are unaware of the underlying reasons. Possibly the fact that T. cruzi infection bears a fitness cost for triatomines is what narrows the niche breadth of the insects. Our results imply that Chagas control programmes should consider whether bugs are infected in models of triatomine distribution.