, Volume 58, Issue 6, pp 754-761

Genetic Divergence in the cacophony IVS6 Intron Among Five BrazilianPopulations of Lutzomyia longipalpis

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Abstract

Genes involved in the reproductive isolation are particularly useful as molecular markers in speciation studies. Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae: Phlebotominae), a putative species complex, is a vector of visceral leishmaniasis in Latin America. We isolated from this species a fragment homologous to cacophony, a Drosophila gene that encodes features of the lovesong, an acoustic signal that is important in the sexual isolation of closely related species and known to vary considerably among L. longipalpis putative siblings species. Using an intron of the sandfly cacophony as a marker, we analyzed the molecular variation and sequence divergence among five populations of L. longipalpis from Brazil, three allopatric (Jacobina, Lapinha and Natal) and two putative sympatric sibling species from the locality of Sobral. A high level of polymorphism was found and analysis of the data indicates that very little gene flow is occurring among the populations of Jacobina, Lapinha, and Natal. A high level of differentiation was also observed between the two putative sympatric species of Sobral, one of which seems to be the same sibling species found in Natal, while the other is somewhat more related to Jacobina and Lapinha. However, the amount of estimated gene flow among the Sobral siblings is about seven times higher than the previously estimated for period, another lovesong gene, perhaps indicating that introgression might be affecting cacophony more than period. The results suggest that L. longipalpis is not a single species in Brazil, but it is yet not clear whether the different populations studied deserve species status rather than representing an incipient speciation process.