Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 28807106
Elife 2017 08;6
The highly motile and versatile protozoan pathogen undergoes a complex life cycle in the tsetse fly. Here we introduce the host insect as an expedient model environment for microswimmer research, as it allows examination of microbial motion within a diversified, secluded and yet microscopically tractable space. During their week-long journey through the different microenvironments of the fly´s interior organs, the incessantly swimming trypanosomes cross various barriers and confined surroundings, with concurrently occurring major changes of parasite cell architecture. Multicolour light sheet fluorescence microscopy provided information about tsetse tissue topology with unprecedented resolution and allowed the first 3D analysis of the infection process. High-speed fluorescence microscopy illuminated the versatile behaviour of trypanosome developmental stages, ranging from solitary motion and near-wall swimming to collective motility in synchronised swarms and in confinement. We correlate the microenvironments and trypanosome morphologies to high-speed motility data, which paves the way for cross-disciplinary microswimmer research in a naturally evolved environment.