We have surveyed 244 hemipterans from Western Brazilian Amazônia for the presence of trypanosomatids and identification of members of the genus Phytomonas. Examination by phase microscopy of squashes of insect salivary glands (SG) and digestive tubes (DT) revealed that 44% (108/244) of insects from seven families harbored trypanosomatids. Infections were 5 times more frequent in Coreidae than in all other families together. Smears of SG and DT of the dissected insects were fixed on glass slides with methanol and stained with Giemsa for morphological analysis. DNA was recovered from these preparations and submitted to a PCR assay that permitted amplification of all trypanosomatid genera using primers of conserved sequences flanking a segment of the spliced leader (SL) gene. Upon PCR amplification of the recovered DNA, amplicons were hybridized with an oligonucletide probe (SL3′) complementary to a SL intron sequence specific for flagellates of the genus Phytomonas. Among the trypanosomatid-positive insects, 38.8% harbored Phytomonas spp., corresponding to an overall Phytomonas prevalence of 17.1% among phytophagous bugs, their putative vectors. Since many Phytomonas are pathogenic in plants, this high prevalence in their vectors emphasizes the permanent risk of exposure to disease by native and cultured plants of the Amazon region.
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Vol. 49 • No. 4