Molecular identification of vectors of Leishmania in Colombia: mitochondrial introgression in the Lutzomyia townsendi series

Acta Trop. 2002 Dec;84(3):205-18. doi: 10.1016/s0001-706x(02)00187-0.


The identity of the sandfly vectors of Leishmania braziliensis in Valle del Cauca Department, Colombia, was originally given as Lutzomyia townsendi, but then changed to L. youngi, another member of the L. townsendi series (Verrucarum group) with isomorphic females. To identify members of this series in Valle del Cauca, we analyzed the nuclear gene elongation factor-alpha (EF-alpha) and the mitochondrial gene cytochrome b (Cyt b). DNA sequences from the L. verrucarum series (L. columbiana, L. evansi and L. ovallesi) were used as outgroups. Flies from two locations on the western cordillera of the Andes were identified as L. townsendi s.s., according to male morphology and distinctive gene lineages. In the third location, on the central cordillera of the Andes, most specimens were identified as belonging to a geographical population of L. youngi, according to male morphology, an EF-alpha lineage shared with L. youngi from the Venezuelan-type locality, and a distinctive Cyt b sub-lineage. All other specimens were identified as L. youngi with the introgressed Cyt b sequences of L. townsendi. Such interspecific introgression implies that vectorial traits and ecological associations may no longer be viewed as fixed properties of different morphospecies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters / analysis
  • Animals
  • Colombia
  • Cytochrome b Group / analysis
  • Cytochrome b Group / genetics
  • Insect Vectors / genetics*
  • Leishmania braziliensis*
  • Leishmaniasis / transmission*
  • Mitochondria / genetics*
  • Mitochondria / metabolism
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Psychodidae / classification
  • Psychodidae / genetics*
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins*
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters
  • Cytochrome b Group
  • Elf1 protein, S pombe
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe Proteins