(1/436) mtDNA history of the Cayapa Amerinds of Ecuador: detection of additional founding lineages for the Native American populations.

mtDNA variation in the Cayapa, an Ecuadorian Amerindian tribe belonging to the Chibcha-Paezan linguistic branch, was analyzed by use of hypervariable control regions I and II along with two linked regions undergoing insertion/deletion mutations. Three major maternal lineage clusters fit into the A, B, and C founding groups first described by Schurr and colleagues in 1990, whereas a fourth lineage, apparently unique to the Cayapa, has ambiguous affinity to known clusters. The time of divergence from a common maternal ancestor of the four lineage groups is of sufficient age that it indicates an origin in Asia and supports the hypothesis that the degree of variability carried by the Asian ancestral populations into the New World was rather high. Spatial autocorrelation analysis points out (a) statistically significant nonrandom distributions of the founding lineages in the Americas, because of north-south population movements that have occurred since the first Asian migrants spread through Beringia into the Americas, and (b) an unusual pattern associated with the D lineage cluster. The values of haplotype and nucleotide diversity that are displayed by the Cayapa appear to differ from those observed in other Chibchan populations but match those calculated for South American groups belonging to various linguistic stocks. These data, together with the results of phylogenetic analysis performed with the Amerinds of Central and South America, highlight the difficulty in the identification of clear coevolutionary patterns between linguistic and genetic relationships in particular human populations.  (+info)

(2/436) Sequence diversity of TT virus in geographically dispersed human populations.

TT virus (TTV) is a newly discovered DNA virus originally classified as a member of the Parvoviridae. TTV is transmitted by blood transfusion where it has been reported to be associated with mild post-transfusion hepatitis. TTV can cause persistent infection, and is widely distributed geographically; we recently reported extremely high prevalences of viraemia in individuals living in tropical countries (e.g. 74% in Papua New Guinea, 83% in Gambia; Prescott & Simmonds, New England Journal of Medicine 339, 776, 1998). In the current study we have compared nucleotide sequences from the N22 region of TTV (222 bases) detected in eight widely dispersed human populations. Some variants of TTV, previously classified as genotypes 1a, 1b and 2, were widely distributed throughout the world, while others, such as a novel subtype of type 1 in Papua New Guinea, were confined to a single geographical area. Five of the 122 sequences obtained in this study (from Gambia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Ecuador) could not be classified as types 1, 2 or 3, with the variant from Brazil displaying only 46-50% nucleotide (32-35% amino acid) sequence similarity to other variants. This study provides an indication of the extreme sequence diversity of TTV, a characteristic which is untypical of parvoviruses.  (+info)

(3/436) Ocular linguatuliasis in Ecuador: case report and morphometric study of the larva of Linguatula serrata.

Linguatula serrata is a pentastomid, a cosmopolitan parasite belonging to the Phylum Pentastomida. Humans may act as an intermediate or accidental definitive host of this parasite, manifesting the nasopharyngeal or visceral form, with the latter having been described more frequently. The occurrence of ocular linguatuliasis is extremely rare, but it has been reported in the United States and Israel. The objective of the present paper was to report the first case of ocular linguatuliasis in Ecuador and to extend the morphologic study of L. serrata by morphometric analysis. The patient studied was a 34-year old woman from Guayaquil, Ecuador who complained of ocular pain with conjunctivitis and visual difficulties of two-months duration. Biomicroscopic examination revealed a mobile body in the anterior chamber of the eye. The mobile body was surgically removed. The specimen was fixed in alcohol, cleared using the technique of Loos, stained with acetic carmine, and mounted on balsam between a slide and a coverslip. It was observed with stereoscopic and common light microscopes in combination with an automatic system for image analysis and processing. The morphologic and morphometric characteristics corresponded to the third-instar larval form of L. serrata. To our knowledge, ocular linguatuliasis has not been previously described in South America, with this being the first report for Ecuador and South America. The present study shows that computer morphometry can adequately contribute both to the morphologic study and to the systematic classification of Pentastomids, and L. serrata in particular.  (+info)

(4/436) Epilepsy and neurocysticercosis in an Andean community.

BACKGROUND: Taenia solium neurocysticercosis (NCC) has been documented as one of the major causes of epilepsy in developing countries. However, methodological limitations have hindered the evaluation of the epidemiological relationship between cysticercosis and epilepsy at the community level. METHODS: We used the WHO protocol for epidemiological evaluation of neurological disorders to conduct a door-to-door survey among 2723 residents of San Pablo del Lago, an Ecuadorean rural community in which T. solium taeniasis/cysticercosis was known to be endemic. The WHO protocol was complemented by neuroimaging and immunological tests to confirm the diagnosis of this infection. RESULTS: In all 31 people suffering from active epilepsy were detected (prevalence 11.4 per 1000, 95% CI:7.7-15.4); 26 agreed to undergo a computer tomography (CT) examination, and 28 agreed to have blood drawn for serodiagnosis. Fourteen of the 26 (53.8%) had CT changes compatible with NCC and six of the 28 (21.4%) tested positive in the enzyme-linked immunoelectro-transfer blot (EITB) assay. In a seizure-free random sample of this population, 17 of 118 (144 per 1000) subjects examined by CT and 10 out of 96 (104 per 1000) examined by EITB had evidence of this infection. The differences between the epilepsy group and the random sample of the population were statistically significant (OR = 6.93, 95% CI: 2.7-17.5, P < 0.001) for CT diagnosis, but not for EITB results (OR = 2.75, 95% CI: 0.8-7.1, P > 0.12, NS). CONCLUSIONS: These findings confirm that T. solium NCC is a significant cause of epilepsy at the community level in Andean villages of Ecuador. It is important to initiate effective public health interventions to eliminate this infection, which may be responsible for at least half of the cases of reported epilepsy in Ecuador.  (+info)

(5/436) Genetic analysis of leishmania parasites in Ecuador: are Leishmania (Viannia) panamensis and Leishmania (V.) Guyanensis distinct taxa?

In the course of an epidemiologic survey in Ecuador, the following collection of Leishmania stocks was isolated: 28 from patients with clinical signs of leishmaniasis, 2 from sloths, 1 from a dog, and 4 from sand flies. For genetic characterization of these stocks, multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE) and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) were used. Twenty six of the 35 stocks were identified as either Leishmania (V.) panamensis or L. (V.) guyanensis, 2 stocks were identified as L. (V.) braziliensis, the 2 stocks from sloths showed specific genotypes, and 5 stocks were characterized as hybrids between L. (V.) braziliensis and L. (V.) guyanensis. These data show that genetic diversity of Leishmania in Ecuador is high and that L. (V.) panamensis/guyanensis is the dominant group in this country. The genetic analysis questioned the distinctness between the two species L.(V.) panamensis and L. (V.) guyanensis, since MLEE and RAPD data did not indicate that L. (V.) panamensis and L. (V.) guyanensis correspond to distinct monophyletic lines. Population genetic analysis performed on the L. (V.) panamensis/guyanensis group favors the hypothesis of a basically clonal population structure.  (+info)

(6/436) Darwin's finches: population variation and natural selection.

Van Valen's model, which relates morphological variation to ecological variation in an adaptive scheme, was investigated with individually marked and measured Darwin's finches on two adjacent Galapagos islands, Santa Cruz and Daphne Major. Results show that environmental heterogeneity is correlated with large continuous, morphological variation: variation in bill dimensions of Geospiza fortis is greater on Santa Cruz than on Daphne, as is environmental heterogeneity. Within populations of this species, different phenotypes distribute themselves in different habitat patches, select foods of different sizes and hardness, and exploit them with efficiencies that are phenotype- (bill size) dependent. These data constitute indirect evidence that natural selection has a controlling influence over the level of phenotypic variation exhibited by a population. Further evidence is that phenotypes did not survive equally well during the study period; on Daphne island G. fortis was apparently subjected to directional selection on bill tip length and G. scandens to normalizing selection on body weight and bill depth. Other factors which may have contributed to the establishment of a difference in variation between Santa Cruz and Daphne populations are the founder effect, genetic drift, and assortative mating. Annual climatic unpredictability is considered a source of environmental heterogeneity which, through its effect upon food supply, favors large morphological variation. It is predicted that species of large individual size are more influenced by this than are small species, and consequently exhibit greater size-corrected variation. The prediction is tested with data from six Geospiza species, and found to be correct.  (+info)

(7/436) Epidemiology of Chagas disease in Ecuador. A brief review.

Chagas disease is a complex public health problem that has been underestimated in Ecuador. Here we review the relevant published information, and present unpublished and new data that help to understand the current Chagas disease epidemiological situation and its evolution in the country. Three main characteristics have been identified: (i) persistence of Trypanosoma cruzi transmission in already known foci; (ii) a marked endemicity in some urban areas of Guayaquil; and (iii) the transformation of new Amazon foci into truly endemic areas. The situation in other suspect areas remains uncertain. Five Triatominae species have been implicated in the transmission of T. cruzi to people in Ecuador (Triatoma dimidiata, Rhodnius ecuadoriensis, R. pictipes, R. robustus and Panstrongylus geniculatus), but some others may also play a role in some areas (P. rufotuberculatus, P. howardi, T. carrioni and P. chinai). Other Triatominae reported seem to have little or no epidemiological relevance (T. venosa, T. dispar, Eratyrus mucronatus, E. cuspidatus, P. lignarius and Cavernicola pilosa). High frequency of acute cases and severe chronic disease has been observed. Although cardiomyopathy is more frequent, serious digestive disease is also present. It is estimated that around 120,000-200,000 people may be infected. 2.2 to 3.8 million people are estimated to live under transmission risk conditions.  (+info)

(8/436) Non-random fitness variation in two populations of Darwin's finches.

Darwinian fitness of an individual is measured by the number of recruits it contributes to the next generation. We studied variation in fitness among members of three cohorts of two species of Darwin's finches living on the Galipagos island of Daphne Major: the medium ground finch (Geospiza fortis) and cactus finch (Geospiza scandens). Individuals of both species live for up to 16 years. Variation in fitness was neither random nor heritable. Non-randomness arises as a result of a few individuals living for an exceptionally long time and breeding many times. For each cohort, the number of recruits per breeder is strongly predicted by the number of fledglings per breeder. In turn, the number of fledglings is strongly predicted by longevity of the breeder. These results suggest that the most important determinant of fitness is the ability of an individual to survive to breed in many years. Morphological traits affect this ability. Although morphological traits are heritable they do not change unidirectionally because they are selected in opposite directions, and in different combinations, under fluctuating environmental conditions. Non-random fitness variation in fluctuating populations implies much smaller genetically effective sizes than breeding population sizes.  (+info)