Revision of the species composition and distribution of Turkish sand flies using DNA barcodes

Kasap Ö., Linton Y., Karakus M., ÖZBEL Y., Alten B.

PARASITES & VECTORS, vol.12, no.1, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1186/s13071-019-3669-3
  • Journal Name: PARASITES & VECTORS
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Background Currently, knowledge regarding the phlebotomine sand fly (Diptera: Psychodidae) fauna of Turkey is restricted to regions with endemic leishmaniasis. However, rapidly changing environmental and social conditions highlight concerns on the possible future expansion of sand fly-borne diseases in Turkey, promoting risk assessment through biosurveillance activities in non-endemic regions. Traditional morphological approaches are complicated by extensive cryptic speciation in sand flies, thus integrated studies utilizing DNA markers are becoming increasingly important for correct sand fly identification. This study contributes to the knowledge of the sand fly fauna in understudied regions of Turkey, and provides an extensive DNA barcode reference library of expertly identified Turkish sand fly species for the first time. Methods Fly sampling was conducted at 101 locations from 29 provinces, covering all three biogeographical regions of Turkey. Specimens were morphologically identified using available keys. Cytochrome c oxidase I (cox1) barcode sequences were analyzed both for morphologically distinct species and those specimens with cryptic identity. A taxon identity tree was obtained using Neighbor Joining (NJ) analysis. Species boundaries among closely related taxa evaluated using ABGD, Maximum Likelihood (ML) and haplotype network analyses. Sand fly richness of all three biogeographical regions were compared using nonparametric species richness estimators. Results A total of 729 barcode sequences (including representatives of all previously reported subgenera) were obtained from a total of 9642 sand fly specimens collected in Turkey. Specimens belonging to the same species or species complex clustered together in the NJ tree, regardless of their geographical origin. The species delimitation methods revealed the existence of 33 MOTUs, increasing the previously reported 28 recorded sand fly species by 17.8%. The richest sand fly diversity was determined in Anatolia, followed by the Mediterranean, and then the Black Sea regions of the country. Conclusions A comprehensive cox1 reference library is provided for the sand fly species of Turkey, including the proposed novel taxa discovered herein. Our results have epidemiological significance exposing extensive distributions of proven and suspected sand fly vectors in Turkey, including those areas currently regarded as non-endemic for sand fly-borne disease.