Biology and genetics of human head and body lice

Aix Marseille Université, Unité de Recherche sur les Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales Emergentes (URMITE), Unité Mixte de Recherche (UMR) 63, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) 7278, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) 198, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) 1095, 13005 Marseille, France.
Trends in Parasitology (Impact Factor: 6.2). 10/2012; 28(12). DOI: 10.1016/
Source: PubMed


Head lice and body lice have distinct ecologies and differ slightly in morphology and biology, questioning their taxonomic status. Over the past 10 years many genetic studies have been undertaken. Controversial data suggest that not only body lice but also head lice can serve as vectors of Bartonella quintana, and a better understanding of louse epidemiology is crucial. Here, we review taxonomic studies based on biology and genetics, including genomic data on lice, lice endosymbionts, and louse-transmitted bacteria. We recommend that studies of human lice employ morphological and biological characteristics in conjunction with transcriptomic date because lice seem to differ mainly in gene expression (and not in gene content), leading to different phenotypes.

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    • " of lice on the head and cloth - ing in France may , indeed , be interbreeding and con - verging rather than diverging . We conclude that these sequences will provide par - ticularly useful tools for future large - scale studies of double - infections to better resolve the systematics of this group . The Madrague Ville Homeless Shelter that we and Veracx et al . ( 2012a ) studied may or may not be typical for body lice and head lice ."
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    ABSTRACT: Some people host lice on the clothing as well as the head. Whether body lice and head lice are distinct species or merely variants of the same species remains contentious. We sought to ascertain the extent to which lice from these different habitats might interbreed on doubly infected people by comparing their entire mitochondrial genome sequences. Toward this end, we analyzed two sets of published genetic data from double-infections of body lice and head lice: 1) entire mitochondrial coding regions (≈15.4 kb) from body lice and head lice from seven doubly infected people from Ethiopia, China, and France; and 2) part of the cox1 gene (≈486 bp) from body lice and head lice from a further nine doubly infected people from China, Nepal, and Iran. These mitochondrial data, from 65 lice, revealed extraordinary variation in the number of single nucleotide polymorphisms between the individual body lice and individual head lice of double-infections: from 1.096 kb of 15.4 kb (7.6%) to 2 bps of 15.4 kb (0.01%). We detected coinfections of lice of Clades A and C on the scalp hair of three of the eight people from Nepal: one person of the two people from Kathmandu and two of the six people from Pokhara. Lice of Clades A and B coinfected the scalp hair of one person from Atherton, Far North Queensland, Australia. These findings argue for additional large-scale studies of the body lice and head lice of double-infected people. © 2014 Entomological Society of America.
    Journal of Medical Entomology 11/2014; 51(6). DOI:10.1603/ME14001 · 1.95 Impact Factor
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    • "Finally, the current study acknowledges that mt sequences give mt genome history; nuclear gene histories will continue to be important. In addition the current study notes that entire mt coding-regions hold promise for dating the divergence of the three Clades (A, B, C) and sub-clades of the Pediculus lice of humankind, e.g. the African cluster of body lice and head lice (Veracx et al., 2012b). "
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    ABSTRACT: The Illumina Hiseq platform was used to sequence the entire mitochondrial coding-regions of 20 body lice, Pediculus humanus Linnaeus, and head lice, P. capitis De Geer (Phthiraptera: Pediculidae), from eight towns and cities in five countries: Ethiopia, France, China, Australia and the U.S.A. These data (∼310 kb) were used to see how much more informative entire mitochondrial coding-region sequences were than partial mitochondrial coding-region sequences, and thus to guide the design of future studies of the phylogeny, origin, evolution and taxonomy of body lice and head lice. Phylogenies were compared from entire coding-region sequences (∼15.4 kb), entire cox1 (∼1.5 kb), partial cox1 (∼700 bp) and partial cytb (∼600 bp) sequences. On the one hand, phylogenies from entire mitochondrial coding-region sequences (∼15.4 kb) were much more informative than phylogenies from entire cox1 sequences (∼1.5 kb) and partial gene sequences (∼600 to ∼700 bp). For example, 19 branches had > 95% bootstrap support in our maximum likelihood tree from the entire mitochondrial coding-regions (∼15.4 kb) whereas the tree from 700 bp cox1 had only two branches with bootstrap support > 95%. Yet, by contrast, partial cytb (∼600 bp) and partial cox1 (∼486 bp) sequences were sufficient to genotype lice to Clade A, B or C. The sequences of the mitochondrial genomes of the P. humanus, P. capitis and P. schaeffi Fahrenholz studied are in NCBI GenBank under the accession numbers KC660761-800, KC685631-6330, KC241882-97, EU219988-95, HM241895-8 and JX080388-407.
    Medical and Veterinary Entomology 08/2014; 28(S1):40-50. DOI:10.1111/mve.12076 · 2.86 Impact Factor
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    • "Wherever possible, we provide examples of invertebrate pests of cash crops because they are associated with a disproportionately high actual and potential economic impact; yet, little attention has been paid to the factors that facilitate invertebrate pest invasions and outbreaks compared with, for example, weed invasions (Kenis et al. 2009; Box 2). We exclude examples of vectors of human disease, as they have been reviewed extensively elsewhere (e.g., Veracx and Raoult 2012; Vontas et al. 2012; Williams 2012), and they involve factors (such as demographic history and genetic variation in resistance) that are beyond the scope of this review. "
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    ABSTRACT: Invertebrate pest invasions and outbreaks are associated with high social, economic, and ecological costs, and their significance will intensify with an increasing pressure on agricultural productivity as a result of human population growth and climate change. New molecular genetic and genomic techniques are available and accessible, but have been grossly underutilized in studies of invertebrate pest invasions, despite that they are useful tools for applied pest management and for understanding fundamental features of pest invasions including pest population demographics and adaptation of pests to novel and/or changing environments. Here, we review current applications of molecular genetics and genomics in the study of invertebrate pest invasions and outbreaks, and we highlight shortcomings from the current body of research. We then discuss recent conceptual and methodological advances in the areas of molecular genetics/genomics and data analysis, and we highlight how these advances will further our understanding of the demographic, ecological, and evolutionary features of invertebrate pest invasions. We are now well equipped to use molecular data to understand invertebrate dispersal and adaptation, and this knowledge has valuable applications in agriculture at a time when these are critically required.
    Evolutionary Applications 07/2013; 6(5). DOI:10.1111/eva.12071 · 3.90 Impact Factor
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