Exploring dietary differences among developmental stages of triatomines infected with Trypanosoma cruzi in different habitats

Plutarco Urbano, Carolina Hernández, Nathalia Ballesteros, Laura Vega, Mateo Alvarado, Natalia Velásquez-Ortiz, Davinzon Martínez, Karen Barragán, Angie Ramírez, Luisa Páez-Triana, Vanessa Urrea, Juan David Ramírez, Camila González

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chagas disease affects millions of people in Colombia and worldwide, with its transmission influenced by ecological, environmental, and anthropogenic factors. There is a notable correlation between vector transmission cycles and the habitats of insect vectors of the parasite. However, the scale at which these cycles operate remains uncertain. While individual triatomine ecotopes such as palms provide conditions for isolated transmission cycles, recent studies examining triatomine blood sources in various habitats suggest a more intricate network of transmission cycles, linking wild ecotopes with human dwellings. This study aims to provide further evidence on the complexity of the scale of Trypanosoma cruzi transmission cycles, by exploring the different blood sources among developmental stages of infected triatomines in different habitats. We evaluated infection rates, parasite loads, feeding sources, and the distribution of Rhodnius prolixus insects in Attalea butyracea palms across three distinct habitats in Casanare, Colombia: peridomestics, pastures, and woodlands. Our results show that there is no clear independence in transmission cycles in each environment. Analyses of feeding sources suggest the movement of insects and mammals (primarily bats and didelphids) among habitats. A significant association was found between habitat and instar stages in collected R. prolixus. The N1 stage was correlated with pasture and woodland, while the N4 stage was related to pasture. Additionally, adult insects exhibited higher T. cruzi loads than N1, N2, and N3. We observed higher T. cruzi loads in insects captured in dwelling and pasture habitats, compared with those captured in woodland areas. Effective Chagas disease control strategies must consider the complexity of transmission cycles and the interplay between domestic and sylvatic populations of mammals and vectors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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