Recently we cloned and sequenced the first eight Trypanosoma cruzi polymorphic microsatellite loci and studied 31 clones and strains to obtain valuable information about the population structure of the parasite. We have now studied 23 further strains, increasing from 11 to 31 the number of strains obtained from patients with chronic Chagas disease. This expanded set of 54 strains and clones analyzed with the eight microsatellites markers confirmed the previously observed diploidy, clonal population organization and very high polymorphism of T. cruzi. Moreover, this new study disclosed two new features of the population genetic structure of T. cruzi. The first was the discovery that, similarly to what we had previously shown for strains isolated from insect vectors, mammals and humans with acute disease, isolates from patients in the chronic phase of Chagas disease could also be multiclonal, albeit at a reduced proportion. Second, when we used parsimony to display the genetic relationship among the clonal lineages in an unrooted Wagner network we
observed, like before, a good correlation of the tree topography with the classification in three clusters on the basis of single locus analysis of the ribosomal RNA genes. However, a significant new finding was that now the strains belonging to cluster 2 split in two distant sub-clusters. This observation suggests that the evolutionary history of T. cruzi may be more complex than we previously thought.