Body size and hosts of Triatoma infestans populations affect the size of bloodmeal contents and female fecundity in rural northwestern Argentina

Gürtler, Ricardo E.; del Pilar Fernández, María; Cecere, María C.; Cohen, Joel E.

Human sleeping quarters (domiciles) and chicken coops are key source habitats of Triatoma infestans—the principal vector of the infection that causes Chagas disease—in rural communities in northern Argentina. Here we investigated the links among individual bug bloodmeal contents (BMC, mg), female fecundity, body length (L, mm), host blood sources and habitats. We tested whether L, habitat and host blood conferred relative fitness advantages using generalized linear mixed-effects models and a multimodel inference approach with model averaging. The data analyzed include 769 late-stage triatomines collected in 120 sites from six habitats in 87 houses in Figueroa, Santiago del Estero, during austral spring. L correlated positively with other body-size surrogates and was modified by habitat type, bug stage and recent feeding. Bugs from chicken coops were significantly larger than pig-corral and kitchen bugs. The best-fitting model of log BMC included habitat, a recent feeding, bug stage, log Lc (mean-centered log L) and all two-way interactions including log Lc. Human- and chicken-fed bugs had significantly larger BMC than bugs fed on other hosts whereas goat-fed bugs ranked last, in consistency with average blood-feeding rates. Fecundity was maximal in chicken-fed bugs from chicken coops, submaximal in human- and pig-fed bugs, and minimal in goat-fed bugs. This study is the first to reveal the allometric effects of body-size surrogates on BMC and female fecundity in a large set of triatomine populations occupying multiple habitats, and discloses the links between body size, microsite temperatures and various fitness components that affect the risks of transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi.

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PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

More About This Work

Academic Units
Earth and Environmental Sciences
Earth Institute
Published Here
March 22, 2018