A growing number of indigenous trypanosomes have been reported to naturally infect a variety of Australian wildlife with some species of Trypanosoma implicated in the population decline of critically endangered marsupials. However, the mode of transmission of Australian trypanosomes is unknown since their vectors remain unidentified. Here we aimed to fill this current knowledge gap about the occurrence and identity of indigenous trypanosomes in Australian invertebrates by conducting molecular screening for the presence of Trypanosoma spp. in native ticks collected from south-west Australia. A total of 231 ticks (148 collected from vegetation and 83 retrieved directly from 76 marsupial hosts) were screened for Trypanosoma using a High-Resolution Melt (HRM) qPCR assay. An overall Trypanosoma qPCR positivity of 37% (46/125) and 34% (26/76) was detected in questing ticks and host-collected (i.e., feeding) ticks, respectively. Of these, sequencing revealed 28% (35/125) of questing and 28% (21/76) of feeding ticks were infected with one or more of the five species of trypanosome previously reported in this region (T. copemani, T. noyesi, T. vegrandis, T. gilletti, Trypanosoma sp. ANU2). This work has confirmed that Australian ticks are capable of harbouring several species of indigenous trypanosome and likely serve as their vectors.
|Publication status||Published - Aug 2021|