Molecular Detection of Leishmania (L.) mexicana (Kinetoplastida: Trypanostomatidae) DNA in Culicoides furens (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) from an Area with Autochthonous Canine Leishmaniasis in Northwestern Mexico



Mexico is considered endemic for Leishmania; recent reports indicate autochthonous human and canine leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania mexicana in Sinaloa state. Lutzomyia sand fly are the primary vector of the parasite, although no records of phlebotomine vectors of Leishmania exist from Sinaloa. Other hematophagous dipterans, like Culicoides, could represent possible vectors of Leishmania in absence of phlebotomines. The known distribution of Culicoides includes the southern portion of Sinaloa state, in northwestern Mexico, with records of Culicoides furens. However, no studies have demonstrated the presence of Leishmania in C. furens or its possible participation in the parasite’s life cycle in Mexico. This study, therefore, sought to detect DNA of Leishmania in C. furens captured in an endemic area of autochthonous canine leishmaniasis in northwestern Mexico.


Culicoides were captured with CDC light traps, identified morphologically, and organized in pools. DNA was extracted, and used to amplify the ribosomal ITS1 region of Leishmania. PCR products were digested with HaeIII endonuclease; the banding patterns obtained were compared to reference strains.


Leishmania mexicana DNA was detected in five out of nine pools (55%) of female C. furens.


This study offers the first evidence of L. mexicana DNA in C. furens, in an endemic area of canine leishmaniasis in northwestern Mexico, where no evidence exists of the presence of phlebotomine sand fly.

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We thank PhD Andrew Townsend Peterson, professor from department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology of the University of Kansas, for critical review of the usage of English language in the manuscript.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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All authors contributed to the study conception and design. Writing-Original draft preparation [JJR-T], Methodology [HC-U], [JIT-A] and [GS-H], Project administration and supervision [EHT-M], [VO-A], Conceptualization [CER-H], Writing-Review, Editing and supervision [JMZ-M].

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Correspondence to José Marcial Zazueta-Moreno.

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Ríos-Tostado, J.J., Castillo-Ureta, H., Torres-Montoya, E.H. et al. Molecular Detection of Leishmania (L.) mexicana (Kinetoplastida: Trypanostomatidae) DNA in Culicoides furens (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) from an Area with Autochthonous Canine Leishmaniasis in Northwestern Mexico. Acta Parasit. (2021).

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  • Leishmania mexicana
  • Culicoides furens
  • Sinaloa
  • Mexico
  • Canine leishmaniasis