Abstract in English:The increasing population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on Madeira Island (Portugal) resulted in the first autochthonous dengue outbreak, which occurred in October 2012. Our study establishes the first genetic evaluation based on the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genes [cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) and NADH dehydrogenase subunit 4 (ND4)] and knockdown resistance ( kdr ) mutations exploring the colonisation history and the genetic diversity of this insular vector population. We included mosquito populations from Brazil and Venezuela in the analysis as putative geographic sources. The Ae. aegypti population from Madeira showed extremely low mtDNA genetic variability, with a single haplotype for COI and ND4. We also detected the presence of two important kdr mutations and the quasi-fixation of one of these mutations (F1534C). These results are consistent with a unique recent founder event that occurred on the island of Ae. aegypti mosquitoes that carry kdr mutations associated with insecticide resistance. Finally, we also report the presence of the F1534C kdr mutation in the Brazil and Venezuela populations. To our knowledge, this is the first time this mutation has been found in South American Ae. aegypti mosquitoes. Given the present risk of Ae. aegypti re-invading continental Europe from Madeira and the recent dengue outbreaks on the island, this information is important to plan surveillance and control measures.
Abstract in English:The adaptation of insect vectors of human diseases to breed in human habitats (domestication) is one of the most important phenomena in medical entomology. Considerable data are available on the vector mosquito Aedes aegypti in this regard and here we integrate the available information including genetics, behaviour, morphology, ecology and biogeography of the mosquito, with human history. We emphasise the tremendous amount of variation possessed by Ae. aegypti for virtually all traits considered. Typological thinking needs to be abandoned to reach a realistic and comprehensive understanding of this important vector of yellow fever, dengue and Chikungunya.
Abstract in English:Dengue is one of the world’s most important mosquito-borne diseases and is usually transmitted by one of two vector species: Aedes aegypti or Aedes albopictus . These two diurnal mosquitoes are frequently found coexisting in similar habitats, enabling interactions between adults, such as cross-mating. The objective of this study was to assess cross-mating between Ae. aegypti females and Ae. albopictus males under artificial conditions and evaluate the locomotor activity of Ae. aegypti virgin females injected with male accessory gland (MAG) homogenates to infer the physiological and behavioural responses to interspecific mating. After seven days of exposure, 3.3-16% of Ae. aegypti females mated with Ae. albopictus males. Virgin Ae. aegypti females injected with conspecific and heterospecific MAGs showed a general decrease in locomotor activity compared to controls and were refractory to mating with conspecific males. The reduction in diurnal locomotor activity induced by injections of conspecific or heterospecific MAGs is consistent with regulation of female reproductive activities by male substances, which are capable of sterilising female Ae. aegypti through satyrisation by Ae. albopictus .
Abstract in English:Acoustic signalling has been extensively studied in insect species, which has led to a better understanding of sexual communication, sexual selection and modes of speciation. The significance of acoustic signals for a blood-sucking insect was first reported in the XIX century by Christopher Johnston, studying the hearing organs of mosquitoes, but has received relatively little attention in other disease vectors until recently. Acoustic signals are often associated with mating behaviour and sexual selection and changes in signalling can lead to rapid evolutionary divergence and may ultimately contribute to the process of speciation. Songs can also have implications for the success of novel methods of disease control such as determining the mating competitiveness of modified insects used for mass-release control programs. Species-specific sound “signatures” may help identify incipient species within species complexes that may be of epidemiological significance, e.g. of higher vectorial capacity, thereby enabling the application of more focussed control measures to optimise the reduction of pathogen transmission. Although the study of acoustic communication in insect vectors has been relatively limited, this review of research demonstrates their value as models for understanding both the functional and evolutionary significance of acoustic communication in insects.
Abstract in English:Many arthropod species have adopted vertebrate blood as their main food source. Blood is rich in nutrients and, except for the presence of parasites, sterile. However, this food source is not freely available, nor is obtaining it devoid of risk. It circulates inside vessels hidden underneath the skin of mobile hosts that are able to defend themselves and even predate the insects that try to feed on them. Thus, the haematophagous lifestyle is associated with major morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations that have accumulated throughout the evolutionary history of the various lineages of blood-sucking arthropods. These adaptations have significant consequences for the evolution of parasites as well as for the epidemiology of vector-transmitted diseases. In this review article, we analyse various aspects of the behaviour of triatomine bugs to illustrate how each behavioural trait represents a particular adaptation to their close association with their hosts, which may easily turn into predators. Our aim is to offer to the reader an up-to-date integrative perspective on the behaviour of Chagas disease vectors and to propose new research avenues to encourage both young and experienced colleagues to explore this aspect of triatomine biology.
Abstract in English:Organisms from bacteria to humans have evolved under predictable daily environmental cycles owing to the Earth’s rotation. This strong selection pressure has generated endogenous circadian clocks that regulate many aspects of behaviour, physiology and metabolism, anticipating and synchronising internal time-keeping to changes in the cyclical environment. In haematophagous insect vectors the circadian clock coordinates feeding activity, which is important for the dynamics of pathogen transmission. We have recently witnessed a substantial advance in molecular studies of circadian clocks in insect vector species that has consolidated behavioural data collected over many years, which provided insights into the regulation of the clock in the wild. Next generation sequencing technologies will facilitate the study of vector genomes/transcriptomes both among and within species and illuminate some of the species-specific patterns of adaptive circadian phenotypes that are observed in the field and in the laboratory. In this review we will explore these recent findings and attempt to identify potential areas for further investigation.
Abstract in English:The adjustment of all species, animals and plants, to the Earth’s cyclic environments is ensured by their temporal organisation. The relationships between parasites, vectors and hosts rely greatly upon the synchronisation of their biological rhythms, especially circadian rhythms. In this short note, parasitic infections by Protozoa and by microfilariae have been chosen as examples of the dependence of successful transmission mechanisms on temporal components.
Abstract in English:Triatomines have been important model organisms for behavioural research. Diverse reports about triatomine host search, pheromone communication in the sexual, shelter and alarm contexts, daily cycles of activity, refuge choice and behavioural plasticity have been published in the last two decades. In recent times, a variety of molecular genetics techniques has allowed researchers to investigate elaborate and complex questions about the genetic bases of the physiology of insects. This, together with the current characterisation of the genome sequence of Rhodnius prolixus allows the resurgence of this excellent insect physiology model in the omics era. In the present revision, we suggest that studying the molecular basis of behaviour and sensory ecology in triatomines will promote a deeper understanding of fundamental aspects of insect and, particularly, vector biology. This will allow uncovering unknown features of essential insect physiology questions for a hemimetabolous model organism, promoting more robust comparative studies of insect sensory function and cognition.
Abstract in English:In this review, we analyse the impact of a population and evolutionary genetics approach on the study of insect behaviour. Our attention is focused on the model organism Drosophila melanogaster and several other insect species. In particular, we explore the relationship between rhythmic behaviours and the molecular evolution of clock and ion channel genes.
Abstract in English:Mosquitoes are the culprits of some of the most important vector borne diseases. A species’ potential as a vector is directly dependent on their pattern of behaviour, which is known to change according to the female’s physiological status such as whether the female is virgin/mated and unfed/blood-fed. However, the molecular mechanism triggered by and/or responsible for such modulations in behaviour is poorly understood. Clock genes are known to be responsible for the control of circadian behaviour in several species. Here we investigate the impact mating and blood-feeding have upon the expression of these genes in the mosquito Aedes aegypti . We show that blood intake, but not insemination, is responsible for the down-regulation of clock genes. Using RNA interference, we observe a slight reduction in the evening activity peak in the fourth day after dstim injection. These data suggest that, as in Drosophila , clock gene expression, circadian behaviour and environmental light regimens are interconnected in Ae. aegypti .
Abstract in English:Lutzomyia longipalpis s.l. is the main vector of American visceral leishmaniasis (AVL) and occurs as a species complex. DNA samples from two Brazilian sympatric species that differ in pheromone and courtship song production were used to analyse molecular polymorphisms in an odorant-binding protein ( obp29 ) gene. OBPs are proteins related to olfaction and are involved in activities fundamental to survival, such as foraging, mating and choice of oviposition site. In this study, the marker obp29 was found to be highly polymorphic in Lu. longipalpis s.l. , with no fixed differences observed between the two species. A pairwise fixation index test indicated a moderate level of genetic differentiation between the samples analysed.
Abstract in English:Rhodnius barretti , a new triatomine species, is described based on adult specimens collected in rainforest environments within the Napo ecoregion of western Amazonia (Colombia and Ecuador). R. barretti resembles Rhodnius robustus s.l. , but mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences reveal that it is a strongly divergent member of the “robustus lineage”, i.e., basal to the clade encompassing Rhodnius nasutus , Rhodnius neglectus , Rhodnius prolixus and five members of the R. robustus species complex. Morphometric analyses also reveal consistent divergence from R. robustus s.l. , including head and, as previously shown, wing shape and the length ratios of some anatomical structures. R. barretti occurs, often at high densities, in Attalea butyracea and Oenocarpus bataua palms. It is strikingly aggressive and adults may invade houses flying from peridomestic palms. R. barretti must therefore be regarded as a potential Trypanosoma cruzi vector in the Napo ecoregion, where Chagas disease is endemic.
Abstract in English:Two snapshot surveys to establish the diversity and ecological preferences of mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) in the terra firme primary rain forest surrounding the Tiputini Biodiversity Station in the UNESCO Yasuní Biosphere Reserve of eastern Amazonian Ecuador were carried out in November 1998 and May 1999. The mosquito fauna of this region is poorly known; the focus of this study was to obtain high quality link-reared specimens that could be used to unequivocally confirm species level diversity through integrated systematic study of all life stages and DNA sequences. A total of 2,284 specimens were preserved; 1,671 specimens were link-reared with associated immature exuviae, all but 108 of which are slide mounted. This study identified 68 unique taxa belonging to 17 genera and 27 subgenera. Of these, 12 are new to science and 37 comprise new country records. DNA barcodes [658-bp of the mtDNA cytochrome c oxidase ( COI ) I gene] are presented for 58 individuals representing 20 species and nine genera. DNA barcoding proved useful in uncovering and confirming new species and we advocate an integrated systematics approach to biodiversity studies in future. Associated bionomics of all species collected are discussed. An updated systematic checklist of the mosquitoes of Ecuador (n = 179) is presented for the first time in 60 years.
Abstract in English:Sequences of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) mitochondrial gene from adults of 22 Culex ( Culex ) species from Argentina and Brazil were employed to assess species identification and to test the usefulness of COI for barcoding using the best close match (BCM) algorithm. A pairwise Kimura two-parameter distance matrix including the mean intra and interspecific distances for 71 COI barcode sequences was constructed. Of the 12 COI lineages recovered in the Neighbour-joining topology, five confirmed recognised morphological species ( Cx. acharistus , Cx. chidesteri , Cx. dolosus , Cx. lygrus and Cx. saltanensis ) with intraspecific divergences lower than 1.75%. Cx. bilineatus is formally resurrected from the synonymy of Cx. dolosus . Cx. maxi , Cx. surinamensis and the Coronator group species included were clustered into an unresolved lineage. The intraspecific distance of Cx. pipiens (3%) was almost twice the interspecific between it and Cx. quinquefasciatus (1.6%). Regarding the BCM criteria, the COI barcode successfully identified 69% of all species. The rest of the sequences, approximately 10%, 18% and 3%, remained as ambiguously, mis and unidentified, respectively. The COI barcode does not contain enough information to distinguish Culex ( Cux. ) species.