Sand flies in the Lutzomyia longipalpis species complex include the primary vector of Leishmania chagasi, the etiologic agent of visceral leishmaniasis in the Neotropics. Twelve L. longipalpis populations from South and Central America were compared using the cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene from the mitochondrial genome. The haplotype profiles for each population revealed that the majority of sequence variation was inter-population (98%) rather than intra-population, suggesting that sequence polymorphisms at the COI locus should provide excellent characters for the study of phylogenetic relationships among populations. Phylogenetic reconstruction using distance (neighbor-joining) and maximum parsimony analysis revealed the existence of four clades among the L. longipalpis populations studied: (1) Laran, (2) Brazilian, (3) cis-Andean and (4) trans-Andean. We suggest that these clades represent species. A biogeographical interpretation of the molecular phylogeny suggests that the process of speciation in the L. longipalpis complex began in the Pliocene, from a sub-Andean-Amazonian gene pool resulting from the Andean orogeny (formation of the East Andean Cordillera). The four clades probably diverged as a result of vicariance events that occurred throughout the late Pliocene and Pleistocene. We propose and discuss several historical scenarios, based on the biogeography and historical geology of Central and South America.
- Lutzomyia longipalpis
- Sand flies
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Infectious Diseases