Luisa M. Arias Giraldo

Luisa M. Arias Giraldo MSc

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Visiting Address

Droevendaalsesteeg 10
6708 PB Wageningen

+31 (0) 317 47 34 00

The Netherlands


Always willing to learn as much as possible!


I obtained my BSc in Biology in Universidad del Rosario (Colombia). After this, I started my MSc in Universiteit Leiden, which I finished in 2022. I have seeked additional training in programming and Data Science, given that this is what I enjoy the most and I plan on keeping my education focused towards this path.



  • Present
  • 2019–2022
    Research Assistant for the Evolutionary Genetics Department (Universidad del Rosario, CO)


  • 2020–2022
    MSc Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology (Universiteit Leiden, NL)
  • 2015–2019
    BSc Biology (Universidad del Rosario, CO)


Key publications

  • Parasites & Vectors volume 13, Article number: 434 (2020)

    Identification of blood-feeding sources in Panstrongylus, Psammolestes, Rhodnius and Triatoma using amplicon-based NGS

    Luisa M. Arias-Giraldo, Marina Muñoz, Carolina Hernández, Giovanny Herrera, Natalia Velásquez-Ortiz, et al.
    Background Triatomines are hematophagous insects that play an important role as vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. These insects have adapted to multiple blood-feeding sources that can affect relevant aspects of their life-cycle and interactions, thereby influencing parasitic transmission dynamics. We conducted a characterization of the feeding sources of individuals from the primary circulating triatomine genera in Colombia using amplicon-based next-generation sequencing (NGS). Methods We used 42 triatomines collected in different departments of Colombia. DNA was extracted from the gut. The presence of T. cruzi was identified using real-time PCR, and discrete typing units (DTUs) were determined by conventional PCR. For blood-feeding source identification, PCR products of the vertebrate 12S rRNA gene were obtained and sequenced by next-generation sequencing (NGS). Blood-meal sources were inferred using blastn against a curated reference dataset containing the 12S rRNA sequences belonging to vertebrates with a distribution in South America that represent a potential feeding source for triatomine bugs. Mean and median comparison tests were performed to evaluate differences in triatomine blood-feeding sources, infection state, and geographical regions. Lastly, the inverse Simpsonʼs diversity index was calculated. Results The overall frequency of T. cruzi infection was 83.3%. TcI was found as the most predominant DTU (65.7%). A total of 67 feeding sources were detected from the analyses of approximately 7 million reads. The predominant feeding source found was Homo sapiens (76.8%), followed by birds (10.5%), artiodactyls (4.4%), and non-human primates (3.9%). There were differences among numerous feeding sources of triatomines of different species. The diversity of feeding sources also differed depending on the presence of T. cruzi. Conclusions To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to employ amplicon-based NGS of the 12S rRNA gene to depict blood-feeding sources of multiple triatomine species collected in different regions of Colombia. Our findings report a striking read diversity that has not been reported previously. This is a powerful approach to unravel transmission dynamics at microgeographical levels.
  • PLoS One . 2020 Nov 12;15(11):e0240916.

    Species-dependent variation of the gut bacterial communities across Trypanosoma cruzi insect vectors

    Luisa M. Arias-Giraldo,Marina Muñoz,Carolina Hernández,Giovanny Herrera,Natalia Velásquez-Ortiz,Omar Cantillo-Barraza,et al.
    Triatomines (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) are the insect vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi, the causative agent of Chagas disease. The gut bacterial communities affect the development of T. cruzi inside the vector, making the characterization of its composition important in the understanding of infection development. We collected 54 triatomine bugs corresponding to four genera in different departments of Colombia. DNA extraction and PCR were performed to evaluate T. cruzi presence and to determine the discrete typing unit (DTU) of the parasite. PCR products of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene were pooled and sequenced. Resulting reads were denoised and QIIME 2 was used for the identification of amplicon sequence variants (ASVs). Diversity (alpha and beta diversity) and richness analyses, Circos plots, and principal component analysis (PCA) were also performed. The overall T. cruzi infection frequency was 75.9%, with TcI being the predominant DTU. Approximately 500,000 sequences were analyzed and 27 bacterial phyla were identified. The most abundant phyla were Proteobacteria (33.9%), Actinobacteria (32.4%), Firmicutes (19.6%), and Bacteroidetes (7.6%), which together accounted for over 90% of the gut communities identified in this study. Genera were identified for these main bacterial phyla, revealing the presence of important bacteria such as Rhodococcus, Serratia, and Wolbachia. The composition of bacterial phyla in the gut of the insects was significantly different between triatomine species, whereas no significant difference was seen between the state of T. cruzi infection. We suggest further investigation with the evaluation of additional variables and a larger sample size. To our knowledge, this study is the first characterization of the gut bacterial structure of the main triatomine genera in Colombia.

Projects & collaborations


  • Promise

    Project 2017–2022
    The long-term goal of the programme is to improve the livelihood of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, by increasing the productivity of sorghum:
    Field trial Ethiopia 2021 - Taye Tessema (EIAR)