High Levels of Genetic Differentiation between Ugandan Glossina fuscipes fuscipes Populations Separated by Lake Kyoga Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND: Glossina fuscipes fuscipes is the major vector of human African trypanosomiasis, commonly referred to as sleeping sickness, in Uganda. In western and eastern Africa, the disease has distinct clinical manifestations and is caused by two different parasites: Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense and T. b. gambiense. Uganda is exceptional in that it harbors both parasites, which are separated by a narrow 160-km belt. This separation is puzzling considering there are no restrictions on the movement of people and animals across this region. METHODOLOGY AND RESULTS: We investigated whether genetic heterogeneity of G. f. fuscipes vector populations can provide an explanation for this disjunct distribution of the Trypanosoma parasites. Therefore, we examined genetic structuring of G. f. fuscipes populations across Uganda using newly developed microsatellite markers, as well as mtDNA. Our data show that G. f. fuscipes populations are highly structured, with two clearly defined clusters that are separated by Lake Kyoga, located in central Uganda. Interestingly, we did not find a correlation between genetic heterogeneity and the type of Trypanosoma parasite transmitted. CONCLUSIONS: The lack of a correlation between genetic structuring of G. f. fuscipes populations and the distribution of T. b. gambiense and T. b. rhodesiense indicates that it is unlikely that genetic heterogeneity of G. f. fuscipes populations explains the disjunct distribution of the parasites. These results have important epidemiological implications, suggesting that a fusion of the two disease distributions is unlikely to be prevented by an incompatibility between vector populations and parasite.

author list (cited authors)

  • Abila, P. P., Slotman, M. A., Parmakelis, A., Dion, K. B., Robinson, A. S., Muwanika, V. B., ... Caccone, A.

citation count

  • 31

publication date

  • May 2008