Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae) is the principal vector of American visceral leishmaniasis. Several studies have indicated that the Lu. longipalpis population structure is complex. It has been suggested that genetic divergence caused by genetic drift, selection, or both may affect the vectorial capacity of Lu. longipalpis. However, it remains unclear whether genetic differences among Lu. longipalpis populations are directly implicated in the transmission features of visceral leishmaniasis. We evaluated the genetic composition and the patterns of genetic differentiation among Lu. longipalpis populations collected from regions with different patterns of transmission of visceral leishmaniasis by analyzing the sequence variation in the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Furthermore, we investigated the temporal distribution of haplotypes and compared our results with those obtained in a previous study. Our data indicate that there are differences in the haplotype composition and that there has been significant differentiation between the analyzed populations. Our results reveal that measures used to control visceral leishmaniasis might have influenced the genetic composition of the vector population. This finding raises important questions concerning the epidemiology of visceral leishmaniasis, because these differences in the genetic structures among populations of Lu. longipalpis may have implications with respect to their efficiency as vectors for visceral leishmaniasis.
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Vol. 48 • No. 5