REVIEW | doi:10.20944/preprints202208.0145.v1
Subject: Life Sciences, Microbiology Keywords: Leishmania; co-infections; mixed infections; co-culture; hybrid; intercellular communication
Online: 8 August 2022 (10:20:49 CEST)
Leishmania parasites present astonishing adaptative abilities that represent a matter of life or death within disparate environments during the heteroxenous parasite life cycle. From an evolutionary perspective, organisms develop methods of overcoming such challenges. Strategies that extend beyond the genetic diversity have been discussed and include variability between parasite cells during the infections of their hosts. The occurrence of Leishmania subpopulation fluctuations with variable structural genomic contents demonstrates that a single strain might shelter the variability required to overcome inconsistent environments. Such intrastrain variability provides parasites with an extraordinary ability to adapt and thus survive and propagate. However, different perspectives on this evolution have been proposed. Strains or species living in the same environment can cooperate but also compete. These interactions might increase the replication rate of some parasites but cause the loss of more aggressive competitors for others. Adaptive responses to intra- and interspecific competition can evolve as a fixed strategy (replication is adapted to the average genetic complexity of infections) or an optional strategy (replication varies according to the genetic complexity of the current infection). This review highlights the complexity of interspecies and intrastrain interactions among Leishmania parasites as well as the different factors that influence this interplay.