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.
Project description:Phlebotomine sandflies are vectors of several pathogens with significant impact for public health. This study was conducted to investigate and characterize phlebovirus and Leishmania infections in vector sandflies collected in the eastern Thrace region in Turkey and Northern Cyprus, where previous data indicate activity of these agents.Field sampling of sandflies was performed at 4 locations in Edirne and Tekirdag provinces of eastern Thrace and at 17 locations in Lefkosa, Girne, Magosa and Guzelyurt provinces of northern Cyprus. In sandfly pools, phlebovirus RNA and Leishmania DNA were screened via a generic polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and kinetoplast minicircle PCR, respectively. Selected sandfly specimens unsuitable for pathogen detection were identified to species level. Cytochrome oxidase 1 gene region was used for DNA barcoding of selected specimens and pathogen positive pools. Positive amplicons were cloned and characterized by sequencing.A total of 2690 sandflies, collected from Eastern Thrace (15.4%) and Northern Cyprus (84.6%) were evaluated. Morphological examination of 780 specimens from Cyprus exhibited Phlebotomus perfiliewi sensu lato (72.6%), Phlebotomus tobbi (19.7%), Phlebotomus papatasi (2.8%), Laroussius sp. (1.6%) and Sergentomyia azizi (1.6%), Sergentomyia sp. (0.9%), Sergentomyia minuta (0.5%) and Phleobotomus jacusieli (0.1%) species. Pathogen screening was performed in 1910 specimens distributed in 195 pools. In eight pools of P.tobbi sandflies collected in Cyprus, Leishmania infantum DNA was demonstrated. Toscana virus (TOSV) genotype A sequences were identified in two pools of P. perfiliewi s.l. and one pool of P.tobbi sandflies from Cyprus. Co-infection of TOSV and Leishmania infantum was characterized in a P.tobbi pool. Sequences belonging to novel phleboviruses are revealed in three P. perfiliewi s.l. pools. One sequence, provisionally named Edirne virus, identified in Edirne province in eastern Thrace, demonstrated the highest rate of genomic similarity to Adria and Salehabad viruses. Furthermore, Girne 1 and Girne 2 viruses, identified in Girne province, revealed similarities to TOSV and Sandfly Fever Sicilian virus and related strains, respectively.Activity of TOSV genotype A strains in Cyprus and co-infection of sandfly vectors with L. infantum was documented for the first time. Novel phlebovirus strains of unknown medical significance was identified in sampling regions.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Blood-sucking phlebotomine sand flies are the vectors of the protozoan parasites Leishmania spp. Different Phlebotomus species transmit different Leishmania species causing leishmaniases which are neglected diseases emerging/reemerging in new regions. Thirteen sand fly species, ten belonging to the medically important genus Phlebotomus and three belonging to Sergentomyia are known in Greece. An increasing number of human and dog cases are reported each year from all parts of the country including the Aegean Islands. However, no previous study has been conducted on the sand fly fauna on the islands, except for Rhodes and Samos. The aim of this study was to investigate sand fly species in eleven small Aegean islands; to understand species-specific relationships with environmental and climatic factors and to compare sand fly community parameters among islands. A risk analysis was carried out for each species using climatic and environmental variables. RESULTS:Nine sand fly species: Phlebotomus neglectus, P. tobbi, P. similis, P. simici, P. perfiliewi, P. alexandri, P. papatasi, Sergentomyia minuta and S. dentata, were collected from the islands studied. Phlebotomus (Adlerius) sp. and Sergentomyia sp. specimens were also collected but not identified to the species level. There was a positive effect of distance from the sea on the abundance of P. neglectus, S. minuta and S. dentata, and a negative effect on the abundance of P. tobbi, P. simici and P. similis. In general, temperature preferences of sand fly populations were between 21 and 29 °C. Nevertheless, there were significant differences in terms of temperature and relative humidity preference ranges among species. The most important species found, P. neglectus, was indisputably the most adapted species in the study area with a very high reaction norm, favoring even the lower temperature and humidity ranges. Overall, the sand fly fauna in the islands was very rich but there were differences in species diversity, as indicated by the values of the Shannon-Wiener index, along with evenness and richness of the sand fly fauna between the islands and altitude ranges in the islands. CONCLUSIONS:The study indicated that the Greek Aegean Islands, however small, maintain a rich sand fly fauna. This includes important vectors of Leishmania spp. representing a risk for parasite transmission to humans and dogs along with the danger of maintaining new Leishmania spp. if introduced to the area.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The Greek island of Crete is endemic for both visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and recently increasing cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL). This study summarizes published data on the sand fly fauna of Crete, the results of new sand fly samplings and the description of a new sand fly species. METHODS:All published and recent samplings were carried out using CDC light traps, sticky traps or mouth aspirators. The specific status of Phlebotomus (Adlerius) creticus n. sp., was assessed by morphological analysis, cytochrome b (cytb) sequencing and MALDI-TOF protein profiling. RESULTS:Published data revealed the presence of 10 Phlebotomus spp. and 2 Sergentomyia spp. During presented field work, 608 specimens of 8 species of Phlebotomus and one species of Sergentomyia were collected. Both published data and present samplings revealed that the two most common and abundant species were Phlebotomus neglectus, a proven vector of Leishmania infantum causing VL, and Ph. similis, a suspected vector of L. tropica causing CL. In addition, the field surveys revealed the presence of a new species, Ph. (Adlerius) creticus n. sp. CONCLUSIONS:The identification of the newly described species is based on both molecular and morphological criteria, showing distinct characters of the male genitalia that differentiate it from related species of the subgenus Adlerius as well as species-specific sequence of cytb and protein spectra generated by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry.
Project description:In this study, the presence of Leishmania DNA and blood feeding sources in phlebotomine sand fly species commonly present in Sicily were investigated. A total of 1,866 female sand flies including 176 blood fed specimens were sampled over two seasons in five selected sites in Sicily (southern Italy). Sergentomyia minuta (n = 1,264) and Phlebotomus perniciousus (n = 594) were the most abundant species at all the sites, while three other species from the genus Phlebotomus (i.e., P. sergenti n = 4, P. perfiliewi n = 3 and P. neglectus n = 1) were only sporadically captured. Twenty-eight out of the 1,866 (1.5%) sand flies tested positive for Leishmania spp. Leishmania tarentolae DNA was identified in 26 specimens of S. minuta, while the DNA of Leishmania donovani complex was detected in a single specimen each of S. minuta and P. perniciosus. Interestingly, seven S. minuta specimens (0.4%) tested positive for reptilian Trypanosoma sp. Blood sources were successfully identified in 108 out of 176 blood fed females. Twenty-seven out of 82 blood sources identified in fed females of P. perniciosus were represented by blood of wild rabbit, S. minuta mainly fed on humans (16/25), while the sole P. sergenti fed specimen took a blood meal on rat. Other vertebrate hosts including horse, goat, pig, dog, chicken, cow, cat and donkey were recognized as blood sources for P. perniciosus and S. minuta, and, surprisingly, no reptilian blood was identified in blood-fed S. minuta specimens. Results of this study agree with the well-known role of P. perniciosus as vector of L. infantum in the western Mediterranean; also, vector feeding preferences herein described support the hypothesis on the involvement of lagomorphs as sylvatic reservoirs of Leishmania. The detection of L. donovani complex in S. minuta, together with the anthropophilic feeding-behaviour herein observed, warrants further research to clarify the capacity of this species in the transmission of pathogens to humans and other animals.
Project description:Phlebotomine sandflies of the genus Sergentomyia are widely distributed throughout the Old World. It has been suggested that Sergentomyia spp are involved in the transmission of Leishmania in India and Africa, whereas Phlebotomus spp are thought to be the sole vectors of Leishmania in the Old World. In this study, Leishmania major DNA was detected in one Sergentomyia minuta specimen that was collected in the southern region of Portugal. This study challenges the dogma that Leishmania is exclusively transmitted by species of the genus Phlebotomus in the Old World.
Project description:Zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania infantum which is transmitted by phlebotomine sand flies (Diptera, Psychodidae) is endemic in the Mediterranean basin. The main objectives of this study were to (i) detect Leishmania DNA and (ii) identify blood meal sources in wild caught female sand flies in the zoonotic leishmaniasis region of Algarve, Portugal/Southwestern Europe.Phlebotomine sand flies were collected using CDC miniature light traps and sticky papers. Sand flies were identified morphologically and tested for Leishmania sp. by PCR using ITS-1 as the target sequence. The source of blood meal of the engorged females was determined using the cyt-b sequence.Out of the 4,971 (2,584 males and 2,387 females) collected sand flies, Leishmania DNA was detected by PCR in three females (0.13%), specifically in two specimens identified on the basis of morphological features as Sergentomyia minuta and one as Phlebotomus perniciosus. Haematic preferences, as defined by the analysis of cyt-b DNA amplified from the blood-meals detected in the engorged female specimens, showed that P. perniciosus fed on a wide range of domestic animals while human and lizard DNA was detected in engorged S. minuta.The anthropophilic behavior of S. minuta together with the detection of Leishmania DNA highlights the need to determine the role played by this species in the transmission of Leishmania parasites to humans. In addition, on-going surveillance on Leishmania vectors is crucial as the increased migration and travelling flow elevate the risk of introduction and spread of infections by Leishmania species which are non-endemic.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Phlebotomine sand flies (Diptera: Psychodidae) are haematophagous insects that transmit the protozoan parasite Leishmania infantum (Kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae), the main causative agent of both zoonotic visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and canine leishmaniasis (CanL) in the Mediterranean basin. Eight species of sand flies have been previously recorded in Romania: Phlebotomus papatasi, Phlebotomus alexandri, Phlebotomus sergenti, Phlebotomus perfiliewi, Phlebotomus neglectus, Phlebotomus longiductus, Phlebotomus balcanicus and Sergentomyia minuta. Three of them (P. perfiliewi, P. neglectus and P. balcanicus) were incriminated as vectors of L. infantum. Recent reports of autochthonous CanL in Romania require updates on sand fly distribution and diversity in this country. METHODS:Between 2013-2014 and 2016-2018, CDC light traps and mouth aspirators were used to collect sand flies in 132 locations from Romania, indoors and around various animal species shelters. Species identification of collected specimens was done using morphological keys, genetic tools and MALDI-TOF protein profiling. RESULTS:Sand flies were present in seven localities (5.3%): Eibenthal, Baia Nou?, Gura V?ii (south-western Romania, Mehedin?i County); Fund?tura, Pâhne?ti, Epureni (eastern Romania, Vaslui County); and Schitu (southern Romania, Giurgiu County). Of the total number of collected sand flies (n?=?251), 209 (83.27%) were Phlebotomus neglectus, 39 (15.53%) P. perfiliewi, 1 (0.40%) P. papatasi, 1 (0.40%) P. balcanicus and 1 (0.40%) P. sergenti (sensu lato). CONCLUSIONS:We confirmed the presence of five sand fly species previously recorded in Romania. However, their updated distribution differs from historical data. The diversity of sand fly species in Romania and their presence in areas with Mediterranean climatic influences constitutes a threat for the reemergence of vector-borne diseases. In the context of CanL and VL reemergence in Romania, but also due to imported cases of the diseases in both humans and dogs, updates on vector distribution are imperative.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Phlebotomus (Larroussius) perniciosus and Canis familiaris are respectively the only confirmed vector and reservoir for the transmission of Leishmania (L.) infantum MON-1 in Tunisia. However, the vector and reservoir hosts of the two other zymodemes, MON-24 and MON-80, are still unknown. The aim of this study was to analyze the L. infantum life cycle in a Tunisian leishmaniasis focus. For this purpose, we have focused on: i) the detection, quantification and identification of Leishmania among this sand fly population, and ii) the analysis of the blood meal preferences of Larroussius (Lar.) subgenus sand flies to identify the potential reservoirs. METHODOLOGY AND FINDINGS:A total of 3,831 sand flies were collected in seven locations from the center of Tunisia affected by human visceral leishmaniasis. The collected sand flies belonged to two genus Phlebotomus (Ph.) (five species) and Sergentomyia (four species). From the collected 1,029 Lar. subgenus female sand flies, 8.26% was positive to Leishmania by ITS1 nested PCR. Three Leishmania spp. were identified: L. infantum 28% (24/85), L. killicki 13% (11/85), and L. major 22% (19/85). To identify the blood meal sources in Ph. Lar. subgenus sand flies, engorged females were analyzed by PCR-sequencing targeting the vertebrate cytochrome b gene. Among the 177 analyzed blood-fed females, 169 samples were positive. Sequencing results showed seven blood sources: cattle, human, sheep, chicken, goat, donkey, and turkey. In addition, mixed blood meals were detected in twelve cases. Leishmania DNA was found in 21 engorged females, with a wide range of blood meal sources: cattle, chicken, goat, chicken/cattle, chicken/sheep, chicken/turkey and human/cattle. The parasite load was quantified in fed and unfed infected sand flies using a real time PCR targeting kinetoplast DNA. The average parasite load was 1,174 parasites/reaction and 90 parasites/reaction in unfed and fed flies, respectively. CONCLUSION:Our results support the role of Ph. longicuspis, Ph. perfiliewi, and Ph. perniciosus in L. infantum transmission. Furthermore, these species could be involved in L. major and L. killicki life cycles. The combination of the parasite detection and the blood meal analysis in this study highlights the incrimination of the identified vertebrate in Leishmania transmission. In addition, we quantify for the first time the parasite load in naturally infected sand flies caught in Tunisia. These findings are relevant for a better understanding of L. infantum transmission cycle in the country. Further investigations and control measures are needed to manage L. infantum transmission and its spreading.
Project description:Cutaneous leishmaniasis is a disease caused by various Leishmania spp., which are transmitted by phlebotomine sand flies. Algeria is one of the most affected countries, with thousands of cutaneous leishmaniasis cases registered every year. From March to November of 2016 and 2017, sand flies were collected in 12 municipalities in Setif province, North-Eastern Algeria. Sand flies were identified and females were tested by PCR for detecting Leishmania DNA. Additionally, cutaneous leishmaniasis cases notified during the study period were analysed. Out of 1804 sand flies collected, 1737 were identified as belonging to seven species, with Phlebotomus perniciosus (76.2%), Ph. papatasi (16.7%) and Ph. sergenti (5.0%) being the most common species, representing together 97.9% of the collected specimens. The remaining specimens were identified as Sergentomyia minuta, Se. fallax, Ph. longicuspis and Ph. perfiliewi. The number of sand flies collected monthly was positively correlated with temperature. Out of 804 females tested, nine Ph. perniciosus (1.1%) scored positive for Leishmania infantum (n = 5), L. major (n = 3) and L. tropica (n = 1), respectively. During the study period, 34 cutaneous leishmaniasis cases were notified in Setif, of which 58.8% were patients residing in two urban and peri-urban municipalities and 41.2% in rural areas. The finding of Ph. perniciosus as the most abundant species in Setif suggests that this sand fly may be adapted to different biotopes in the North-East region of Algeria. The detection of different Leishmania spp. in Ph. perniciosus suggests a complex epidemiological picture of cutaneous leishmaniasis in Setif, with the involvement of different etiological agents and possibly with different reservoir hosts and vectors.
Project description:Cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) is a vector-borne disease transmitted by the bite of an infected sand fly. This disease is highly prevalent in Saudi Arabia where Leishmania major and L. tropica are the etiological agents. In the region of Hail, northwestern of Saudi Arabia, the incidence is about 183 cases/year. However, the epidemiology of the disease in this area is not well understood. Thus, an epidemiological survey was conducted in 2015-2016 to identify the circulating parasite and the sand fly fauna in the region of Hail. Skin lesion scrapings were collected from suspected patients with CL.The diagnosis was made by microscopic examination of Giemsa-stained smear and PCR. The parasite was identified by PCR and sequencing of the single copy putative translation initiation factor alpha subunit gene. Sand fly specimens were collected and identified morphologically. Total DNA was extracted from the abdomen of female specimens and Leishmania DNA was detected by PCR.Among the 57 examined patients, 37 were positive for CL. The identification of the parasite has revealed the single species Leishmania major. The 384 sand flies were collected belonged to two genera (Phlebotomus and Sergentomyia), six sub-genera and six species. Phlebotomus papatasi, Ph. kazeruni and Sergentomyia clydei were the dominant species. Leishmania DNA was detected in two females of Ph. papatasi two of Ph. kazeruni and one specimen of Sergentomyia clydei.Leishmania major is confirmed to be the etiological agent of cutaneous leishmaniasis in northwestern Saudi Arabia. The molecular detection of Leishmania DNA in Ph. papatasi and Ph. kazeruni supports the potential role of these two species in the transmission of Leishmania. Further epidemiological studies are needed to prove their role and to evaluate the burden of CL in the study region.