Protein mass spectrometry detects multiple bloodmeals for enhanced Chagas disease vector ecology

Judith I. Keller, Raquel Lima-Cordón, M. Carlota Monroy, Anna M. Schmoker, Fan Zhang, Alan Howard, Bryan A. Ballif, Lori Stevens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Chagas disease, a neglected tropical disease endemic in Latin America, is caused by the protozoan parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and is responsible for significant health impacts, especially in rural communities. The parasite is transmitted by insect vectors in the Triatominae subfamily and due to lack of vaccines and limited treatment options, vector control is the main way of controlling the disease. Knowing what vectors are feeding on directly enhances our understanding of the ecology and biology of the different vector species and can potentially aid in engaging communities in active disease control, a concept known as Ecohealth management. We evaluated bloodmeals in rural community, house-caught insect vectors previously evaluated for bloodmeals via DNA analysis as part of a larger collaborative project from three countries in Central America, including Guatemala. In addition to identifying bloodmeals in 100% of all samples using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) (n = 50), strikingly for 53% of these samples there was no evidence of a recent bloodmeal by DNA-PCR. As individual vectors often feed on multiple sources, we developed an enhanced detection pipeline, and showed the ability to quantify a bloodmeal using stable-isotope-containing synthetic references peptides, a first step in further exploration of species-specific bloodmeal composition. Furthermore, we show that a lower resolution mass spectrometer is sufficient to correctly identify taxa from bloodmeals, an important and strong attribute of our LC-MS/MS-based method, opening the door to using proteomics in countries where Chagas disease is endemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103998
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
StatePublished - Oct 2019


  • Bloodmeal
  • Chagas
  • Ecohealth
  • LC-MS/MS
  • Mass spectrometry
  • Triatoma dimidiata


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