Morphological evidence suggests homoploid hybridization as a possible mode of speciation in the Triatominae (Hemiptera, Heteroptera, Reduviidae)

Infect Genet Evol. 2009 Mar;9(2):263-70. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2008.12.005. Epub 2008 Dec 24.


All known significant insect vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi are members of the Reduviidae, subfamily Triatominae. Infections with this parasite are the cause of Chagas disease, the single most costly parasitic disease in the Western Hemisphere. The Triatominae are almost completely restricted to the Americas, with >130 species distributed in several foci of species richness and endemism; nevertheless, the processes involved in the diversification of this group remain poorly understood. The Triatoma brasiliensis species complex was recently proposed based on geography, morphology, ecology, and molecular data, and is believed to comprise two species and two subspecies. Here, we report results from a broad series of studies, in which first-generation offspring of experimental crosses were studied in terms of wing morphometry and phylogenetic position. Morphometrics, morphological, ecological and geographic analyses were consistent with the hypothesis of T. brasiliensis macromelasoma as a product of hybridization between two others (T. brasiliensis brasiliensis and T. juazeirensis). Although evidence is supportive of the hypothesis of speciation via hybridization as a mode of triatomine diversification, the case is not as-yet conclusive, and confirmation via molecular markers is necessary.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Body Size / physiology
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetic Speciation*
  • Hybridization, Genetic
  • Insect Vectors / classification*
  • Insect Vectors / genetics*
  • Triatominae / anatomy & histology*
  • Triatominae / classification*
  • Triatominae / genetics
  • Wings, Animal / anatomy & histology