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A PCR-RFLP method using universal primers complementary to the conserved region of the cytochrome b gene (cyt b) of the mitochondrion DNA (mtDNA) of vertebrates was applied to the identification of the origin of bloodmeals in tsetse flies. Blood samples from
10 potential tsetse hosts of the family bovidae (cattle, water buffalo, red buffalo, waterbuck, springbok, goat, sheep, sable antelope, oryx and dik-dik) were included in this study. Sites for appropriate restriction endonucleases cuts were chosen by pairwise alignment of the amplified 359 bp fragments. A flow chart of endonucleases digestion using three restriction enzymes (e.g. Taq I, Alu I, Hinf I) for the unequivocal identification of the respective bovid species was developed. A number of additional non specific DNA fragments attributed to the co-amplification of cytochrome b pseudogenes were observed in some species (e.g. in red buffalo and dik-dik after digestion with Alu I) but did not hamper assignment of bovid species. The detection rate of host DNA in tsetse by PCR-RFLP was 100%, 80%, 60% and 40% at 24, 48, 72 and 96 h post in vitro feeding, respectively. Identification of the last blood meal was possible even when tsetse had previously fed on different hosts.