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General Characteristics of Trypanosoma gambiense | Diagram

In this article, we will learn the general characteristics of Trypanosoma gambiense, systematic position, habit and habitat, distribution, food and feeding, reproduction and economic importance.

Systematic Position of Trypanosoma gambiense

Domain: Eukaryota
Phylum: Euglenozoa
Class: Kinetoplastea
Order: Trypanosomatida
Family: Trypanosomatidae
Genus: Trypanosoma
Species:
Trypanosoma gambiense

Diagram

General Characteristics of Trypanosoma gambiense

Fig: Trypanosoma gambiense

Habit, Habitat & Distribution

  • Trypanosoma gambiense is a parasitic protozoan that is responsible for causing African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, in humans.
  • It is transmitted to humans through the bite of the tsetse fly (genus Glossina) which acts as the vector for the parasite.
  • The habitat of Trypanosoma gambiense is primarily in sub-Saharan Africa, specifically in countries such as Angola, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, Ghana, and Sudan.
  • The parasite is typically found in rural areas where tsetse flies are common, such as in savannah and rainforest regions.
  • It is also found in the western part of Central Africa, with a focus in Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • The Trypanosoma gambiense is a complex parasite and its habitat is limited to specific regions in Africa.
  • The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected tsetse fly.
  • The life cycle of Trypanosoma gambiense is divided into two stages, the vertebrate host stage and the insect vector stage.
  • In the vertebrate host stage, the parasite is found in the bloodstream and lymphatic system of the human host, and in the insect vector stage, the parasite is found in the gut of the tsetse fly.
  • It is important to note that the disease is transmitted to humans through the trypomastigote form of Trypanosoma gambiense which is present in the tsetse fly’s salivary gland.

General Characteristics

  • Trypanosoma gambiense is a species of parasitic protozoan that belongs to the genus Trypanosoma.
  • It is one of the causative agents of African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, in humans.
  • The organism is a unicellular, flagellated protozoan that ranges in size from 12 to 30 micrometers in length.
  • It has a distinctive kinetoplast, which is a large mitochondrial DNA found at the base of the flagellum.
  • The organism is able to change its shape and move using its flagella.
  • It has two hosts and they are human and Tsetse fly.
  • In the vertebrate host stage, Trypanosoma gambiense exists in the bloodstream and lymphatic system in the form of trypomastigotes.
  • These trypomastigotes have a characteristic undulating membrane, which is a series of ridges along the length of the cell that help the organism move.
  • The trypomastigotes are able to multiply and cause damage to the host’s immune system, leading to symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue.
  • In the insect vector stage, the trypomastigotes enter the gut of the tsetse fly when the fly feeds on the blood of an infected human.
  • The metacyclic trypomastigote form is transmitted to a new human host when the fly takes its next blood meal.
  • Trypanosoma gambiense is a facultative intracellular parasite. This means that it is able to live both inside and outside host cells.
  • It is able to evade the host’s immune system by changing the surface proteins that are recognized by the host’s immune system.
  • The disease caused by Trypanosoma gambiense, African trypanosomiasis, is characterized by two stages: the hemolymphatic stage and the meningoencephalitic stage.
  • The hemolymphatic stage is characterized by symptoms such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, and fatigue. The meningoencephalitic stage is characterized by symptoms such as confusion, sleep disturbances, and even coma. The disease can be fatal if left untreated.
  • They reproduce through a process called binary fission.

Food and Feeding

  • Trypanosoma gambiense, like all members of the genus Trypanosoma, is a heterotrophic organism, which means that it relies on other organisms for its nutrition.
  • During the vertebrate host stage, it obtains its food by feeding on the host’s blood cells.
  • It invades the red blood cells and uses their nutrients to reproduce and grow. This process of invading and feeding on the host’s blood cells can lead to anemia and damage to the host’s immune system.
  • During the insect vector stage, it obtains its food by feeding on the nutrients in the gut of the tsetse fly.
  • The trypomastigotes enter the gut of the fly when the fly takes a blood meal from an infected human.
  • The Tsetse fly are also heterotrophic organism and they are the vector of the disease, they feed on the blood of mammals, and their feeding habits have a significant impact on the distribution and transmission of the disease.

Reproduction/Breeding

  • Sexual reproduction is unknown.
  • Asexual reproduction takes place by longitudinal binary fission.
  • First, the kinetoplast and the blepharoplast divide to become paired.
  • The old flagellum remains attached to one of the blepharoplasts.
  • A new flagellum begins to grow out from the other blepharoplast.
  • The nucleus divides by mitosis into two daughter nuclei.
  • Finally, the body splits mid-longitudinally.

Economic Importance of Trypanosoma gambiense

  • Trypanosoma gambiense is a parasitic protozoan that causes African trypanosomiasis, also known as sleeping sickness, in humans.
  • The disease is primarily found in sub-Saharan Africa and is transmitted to humans through the bite of the tsetse fly.
  • African trypanosomiasis has significant economic impacts on affected communities and countries.
  • The disease is a major health concern in many rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, where it is often the most significant cause of hospitalization and death.
  • The disease can also have a significant impact on agricultural productivity, as it can affect both human and animal populations, leading to reduced labor and animal power.
  • The disease also has an impact on the economy through decreased productivity and increased healthcare costs.
  • Sleeping sickness can cause significant disability and death, reducing the number of able-bodied workers and increasing the burden on healthcare systems. This can lead to reduced economic growth and development.
  • Additionally, the disease can also affect the tourism industry, as it can discourage people from visiting areas where the disease is prevalent. This can have a negative impact on the local economy, as tourism is an important source of income for many communities in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Efforts to control and eliminate African trypanosomiasis also have economic costs.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of the disease can be costly, particularly in resource-limited settings.
  • Control measures, such as tsetse fly eradication programs, can also be costly and difficult to implement.

 

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