Host-Parasite Relationships and Life Histories of Trypanosomes in Australia

C. Cooper, P. L. Clode, C. Peacock, R. C A Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Trypanosomes constitute a group of flagellate protozoan parasites responsible for a number of important, yet neglected, diseases in both humans and livestock. The most significantly studied include the causative agents of African sleeping sickness (Trypanosoma brucei) and Chagas disease (Trypanosoma cruzi) in humans. Much of our knowledge about trypanosome host-parasite relationships and life histories has come from these two human pathogens. Recent investigations into the diversity and life histories of wildlife trypanosomes in Australia highlight that there exists a great degree of biological and behavioural variation within and between trypanosomes. In addition, the genetic relationships between some Australian trypanosomes show that they are unexpectedly more closely related to species outside Australia than within it. These findings have led to a growing focus on the importance of understanding parasites occurring naturally in wildlife to (1) better document parasite biodiversity, (2) determine evolutionary relationships and degree of host specificity, (3) understand host-parasite interactions and the role of parasites in the natural ecosystem and (4) identify biosecurity issues of emerging disease in both wildlife and human populations. Here we review what is known about the diversity, life histories, host-parasite interactions and evolutionary relationships of trypanosomes in Australian wildlife. In this context, we focus upon the genetic proximity of key Australian species to the pathogenic . T. cruzi and discuss similarities in their biology and behaviour that present a potential risk of human disease transmission by Australian vectors and wildlife.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-109
Number of pages63
JournalAdvances in Parasitology
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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