A good understanding of tsetse fly population structure and migration is essential to optimize the control of sleeping sickness. This can be done by studying the genetics of tsetse fly populations. In this work, we estimated the genetic differentiation within and among geographically separated Glossina palpalis palpalis populations from Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ivory Coast. We determined the demographic history of these populations and assessed phylogenetic relationships among individuals of this sub-species. A total of 418 tsetse flies were analysed: 258 were collected in four locations in Cameroon (Bipindi, Campo, Fontem and Bafia), 100 from Azaguié and Nagadoua in Ivory Coast and 60 from Malanga in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. We examined genetic variation at three mitochondrial loci: COI, COII-TLII, and 16S2. 34 haplotypes were found, of which 30 were rare, since each was present in <5% of the total number of individuals. No haplotype was shared among Cameroon, Ivory Coast and the Democratic Republic of the Congo populations. The fixation index FST of 0.88 showed a high genetic distance between Glossina palpalis palpalis populations from the three countries. That genetic distance was correlated to the geographic distance between populations. We also found that there is substantial gene flow between flies from locations separated by over 100 km in Cameroon and between flies from locations separated by over 200 km in Ivory Coast. Demographic parameters suggest that the tsetse flies from Fontem (Cameroon) had reduced in population size in the recent past. Phylogenetic analysis confirms that Glossina palpalis palpalis originating from the Democratic Republic of the Congo are genetically divergent from the two other countries as already published in previous studies.
Keywords: Demographic history; Genetic differentiation; Glossina palpalis palpalis; Mitochondrial markers; Phylogeny; Trypanosomiasis.
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