Testing Phylogeographic Hypotheses in Mepraia (Hemiptera: Reduviidae) Suggests a Complex Spatio-Temporal Colonization in the Coastal Atacama Desert

Ricardo Campos-Soto, Evelyn Rodríguez-Valenzuela, Gabriel Díaz-Campusano, Dusan Boric-Bargetto, Álvaro Zúñiga-Reinoso, Franco Cianferoni, Fernando Torres-Pérez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Mepraia is a genus (Triatominae) endemic to Chile and a vector of Trypanosoma cruzi. Alternative phylogeographic hypotheses have been suggested for Mepraia. We tested different colonization routes hypothesized using mitochondrial sequences and phylogeographic approaches to select the best-supported hypothesis. Our results suggest that, after the split from the sister genus Triatoma at ~4.3 Mya, Mepraia formed two main clades at ~2.1 Mya. The northern clade diverged from Mepraia sp. ~1.7 Mya, giving rise to M. parapatrica and M. gajardoi about ~1.4 Mya. The southern clade originated M. spinolai ~1.68 Mya. We suggest that Mepraia had an origin in the north-central Andes along with orogenic processes, reinforced by hyperaridity during the Pliocene. The hyperarid cycle would have separated the southern and northern clades. Then, in the northern clade, dispersal occurred north and south from the centre through corridors during the Pleistocene Climatic Oscillations. Climate changes may have induced a major speciation process in the Atacama Desert, while the more homogeneous habitat colonized by the southern clade led to only one, but structured, species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number419
JournalInsects
Volume13
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Andes uplift
  • Biogeography of Mepraia
  • blood-sucking bug
  • colonization
  • diversification
  • Mepraia species
  • phylogeny
  • phylogeographic hypotheses
  • Plio-Pleistocene climate change
  • vector-borne disease

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