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Home arrow Economics arrow American Trypanosomiasis Chagas Disease, Second Edition: One Hundred Years of Research

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Perspective and future directions

Population genetics studies have provided important contributions to developing control strategies for Chagas vectors. We have learned about the identity of the epidemiologically important species, the origins of triatomine populations, and the adequacy of control strategies, among other findings. Certainly, there are many interesting questions to be addressed with new and emerging tools. With the advances in geographic information system technology, it is now possible to combine genetic with geographic and environmental data to predict the potential distribution of the vector populations and how such distributions might be affected by global climate change.

The origin and evolutionary history of several species has begun to be studied. What are the historical, geological, ecological, and demographical conditions that resulted in the current distribution of species and differentiated subpopulations? Have populations undergone bottlenecks, population expansions, or introductions into new localities? How has this affected their epidemiological importance? The issue of hybridization and introgression, observed in many triatomine species, is very intriguing. Where distinct taxa are sympatric (occur in the same area), are there differences that keep species reproductively isolated? What will be the effect of human activities such as deforestation and climate change? What will be the results of the ongoing control efforts?

Comparative genomics and proteomics can help to identify genes and proteins involved in colonization of human dwellings, hematophagy, and insecticide resistance. These approaches can also help to unravel vector/parasite interactions (e.g., does parasite infection result in changes in vector behavior in ways that increase transmission, and what genes are involved in vector competence and capacity?).

While DNA-based molecular markers provided population geneticists with dramatically increased resolution over previous approaches, development of new tools such as SNP assays and whole-genome sequencing will provide a new leap in resolution over current molecular methods used in triatomines.

 
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