Altitude and hillside orientation shapes the population structure of the Leishmania infantum vector Phlebotomus ariasi

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Prudhomme J., De Meeûs T., Toty C., Cassan C., Rahola N., Vergnes B., ...More

Scientific Reports, vol.10, no.1, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/s41598-020-71319-w
  • Journal Name: Scientific Reports
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Chemical Abstracts Core, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Despite their role in Leishmania transmission, little is known about the organization of sand fly populations in their environment. Here, we used 11 previously described microsatellite markers to investigate the population genetic structure of Phlebotomus ariasi, the main vector of Leishmania infantum in the region of Montpellier (South of France). From May to October 2011, we captured 1,253 Ph. ariasi specimens using sticky traps in 17 sites in the North of Montpellier along a 14-km transect, and recorded the relevant environmental data (e.g., altitude and hillside). Among the selected microsatellite markers, we removed five loci because of stutter artifacts, absence of polymorphism, or non-neutral evolution. Multiple regression analyses showed the influence of altitude and hillside (51% and 15%, respectively), and the absence of influence of geographic distance on the genetic data. The observed significant isolation by elevation suggested a population structure of Ph. ariasi organized in altitudinal ecotypes with substantial rates of migration and positive assortative mating. This organization has implications on sand fly ecology and pathogen transmission. Indeed, this structure might favor the global temporal and spatial stability of sand fly populations and the spread and increase of L. infantum cases in France. Our results highlight the necessity to consider sand fly populations at small scales to study their ecology and their impact on pathogens they transmit.