African trypanosomes are flagellated protozoan parasites that cause sleeping sickness in humans and nagana in cattle in Sub-Saharan Africa. These parasites are exclusively transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. Successful transmission is the outcome of crosstalk between the trypanosome and its insect host acting as a vector. This enables the parasite to undergo successive rounds of differentiation, proliferation and migration, culminating in the infection of a new mammalian host.
This Research Topic hosted in Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology focuses on the various interactions between African trypanosomes and tsetse flies that enable parasites to be transmitted, with emphasis on the parasite biology.
Key aspects of this fascinating host-parasite interplay are addressed in the following chapters. The developmental schemes of the main African trypanosome species in their vector will first be presented. Then, the roles of the parasite cytoskeleton, flagellum and surface coats in the infection process will be detailed. The tsetse immune response, combined to the actions of several endosymbiotic microbes in the control of the trypanosome infection will also be presented in this context. Finally, a picture of the tsetse infection levels in the field will be drawn. A better understanding of these parasite / vector interactions would open new ways for transmission control.