Cadernos de Saúde Pública
On-line version ISSN 1678-4464
STEVENS, Jamie R. and GIBSON, Wendy C.. The evolution of pathogenic trypanosomes. Cad. Saúde Pública [online]. 1999, vol.15, n.4, pp. 673-684. ISSN 1678-4464. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0102-311X1999000400002.
In the absence of a fossil record, the evolution of protozoa has until recently largely remained a matter for speculation. However, advances in molecular methods and phylogenetic analysis are now allowing interpretation of the "history written in the genes". This review focuses on recent progress in reconstruction of trypanosome phylogeny based on molecular data from ribosomal RNA, the miniexon and protein-coding genes. Sufficient data have now been gathered to demonstrate unequivocally that trypanosomes are monophyletic; the phylogenetic trees derived can serve as a framework to reinterpret the biology, taxonomy and present day distribution of trypanosome species, providing insights into the coevolution of trypanosomes with their vertebrate hosts and vectors. Different methods of dating the divergence of trypanosome lineages give rise to radically different evolutionary scenarios and these are reviewed. In particular, the use of one such biogeographically based approach provides new insights into the coevolution of the pathogens, Trypanosoma brucei and Trypanosoma cruzi, with their human hosts and the history of the diseases with which they are associated.
Keywords : Trypanosoma brucei; Trypanosoma cruzi; Phylogeny; Evolution.