The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)


Investigating the presence of mycobacterial pathogens in New World primates

TANVI P. HONAP1, GENEVIEVE HOUSMAN2, GIDEON ERKENSWICK3, JOANNA MALUKIEWICZ2,4, VANNER BOERE4, LUIZ CEZAR MACHADO PEREIRA5, ADRIANA D. GRATIVOL6, CARLOS R. RUIZ-MIRANDA6, ITA DE OLIVEIRA E SILVA7, MRINALINI WATSA8 and ANNE C. STONE2.

1School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, USA, 2School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University, USA, 3Department of Biology, University of Missouri - St. Louis, USA, 4Departamento de Bioquimica e Biologia Molecular, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil, 5Centro de Conservação e Manejo de Fauna da Caatinga, Universidade Federal do Vale do São Francisco, Brazil, 6Laboratório de Ciências Ambientais, Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense, Brazil, 7Departamento de Biologia Animal, Universidade Federal de Viçosa, Brazil, 8Department of Anthropology, Washington University in St. Louis, USA

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Tuberculosis and leprosy, caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) and M. leprae respectively, are age-old diseases that continue to affect human populations. The presence of animal reservoirs of these mycobacterial pathogens might explain their continued persistence among human populations due to a cycle of zoonotic transmission. Because of the increased contact and close evolutionary relationships between human and nonhuman primates, pathogens can be transmitted easily among them. Therefore, it is necessary to broadly survey nonhuman primate populations, including those in close proximity and distant to human populations, for the presence of mycobacteria. As a part of this study, a sample of 88 individuals, belonging to wild Callithrix populations in Brazil, were tested for the presence of five specific mycobacterial genes using real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) assays. Out of these, 19 individuals tested positive for the mycobacterial rpoB gene. Currently, we are developing a qPCR assay targeting the hsp65 gene of a newly defined bacterium, M. lepromatosis, which is a sister taxon of M. leprae and causes a severe form of human leprosy in Costa Rica and Mexico. However, the exact geographic range and host range of M. lepromatosis are unknown. Furthermore, we are testing a sample of approximately 100 individuals, belonging to wild Saguinus populations from the Amazon region of Peru, for the presence of mycobacterial infection, using this set of qPCR assays.

This research was partly funded by a National Science Foundation DDIG (Grant number 1061508).