Biogeographic origin and phylogenetic relationships of Mepraia (Hemiptera, Reduviidae) on islands of northern Chile

Ricardo Campos-Soto, Gabriel Díaz-Campusano, Ninette Rives-Blanchard, Franco Cianferoni, Fernando Torres-Pérez

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Chagas disease is one of the main zoonoses mediated by vectors in America. The etiological agent is the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, transmitted mainly by hematophagous insects of the subfamily Triatominae. Mepraia species are triatomines endemic to Chile that play an important role in T. cruzi transmission in the wild cycle and are potential vectors for humans. In addition to the continental distribution, populations of Mepraia genus have been reported inhabiting islands of northern Chile. The presence of individuals of Mepraia in insular areas might be explained through passive dispersion by marine birds or by vicariance of an ancestral widespread population. To clarify the biogeographic origin and phylogenetic relationships of island individuals of Mepraia, mitochondrial COI and cyt b genes were sequenced in individuals from island and continental areas. Gene sequences were used to estimate phylogenetic relationships, divergence dates and migration rates between insular and continental populations. The dates of divergence estimates are congruent with sea level and tectonic changes that originated the islands during Pleistocene. Migration rates suggest symmetric historical island-continent gene flow. We suggest that the origin of island triatomines can be explained by both vicariance and dispersion. Phylogenetic relationships show that individuals from Santa María Island and the continent clustered in a clade different from those previously reported, indicating a new lineage of Mepraia genus. This study will contribute to understand the origin of the T. cruzi infection in coastal islands of northern Chile.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0234056
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2020


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