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Identification of wild-caught phlebotomine sand flies from Crete and Cyprus using DNA barcoding.


ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND:Phlebotomine sand flies (Diptera: Psychodidae) are vectors of Leishmania spp., protozoan parasites responsible for a group of neglected diseases called leishmaniases. Two sand fly genera, Phlebotomus and Sergentomyia, contain species that are present in the Mediterranean islands of Crete and Cyprus where the visceral (VL), cutaneous (CL) and canine (CanLei) leishmaniases are a public health concern. The risk of transmission of different Leishmania species can be studied in an area by monitoring their vectors. Sand fly species are traditionally identified using morphological characteristics but minute differences between individuals or populations could be overlooked leading to wrong epidemiological predictions. Molecular identification of these important vectors has become, therefore, an essential tool for research tasks concerning their geographical distribution which directly relates to leishmaniasis control efforts. DNA barcoding is a widely used molecular identification method for cataloguing animal species by sequencing a fragment of the mitochondrial gene encoding cytochrome oxidase I. RESULTS:DNA barcoding was used to identify individuals of five sand fly species (Phlebotomus papatasi, P. similis, P. killicki, Sergentomyia minuta, S. dentata) circulating in the islands of Crete and Cyprus during the years 2011-2014. Phlebotomus papatasi is a known vector of zoonotic CL in the Middle East and it is found in both islands. Phlebotomus similis is the suspected vector of Leishmania tropica in Greece causing anthroponotic CL. Phlebotomus killicki was collected in Cyprus for the first time. Sergentomyia minuta, found to present intraspecific diversity, is discussed for its potential as a Leishmania vector. Molecular identification was consistent with the morphological identification. It successfully identified males and females, which is difficult when using only morphological characters. A phylogenetic tree was constructed based on the barcodes acquired, representing their genetic relationships along with other species from the area studied. All individuals identified were clustered according to their species and subgenus. CONCLUSIONS:Molecular identification of sand flies via DNA barcoding can accurately identify these medically important insects assisting traditional morphological tools, thus helping to assess their implication in Leishmania transmission.

SUBMITTER: Dokianakis E 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC5816364 | BioStudies | 2018-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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