Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #375291

Research Project: Biological Control of Invasive Arthropod Pests from the Eastern Hemisphere

Location: Location not imported yet.

Title: Phlebotomus (Adlerius) simici NITZULESCU, 1931: first record in Austria and the phylogenetic relationship with other Adlerius species.

item KNIHA, EDWIN - University Of Vienna
item DVORAK, VIT - Charles University, Czech Republic
item MILCHRAM, MARKUS - University Of Natural Resources & Applied Life Sciences - Austria
item OBWALLER, ADELHEID - Ministry Of Defence
item KOEHSLER, MARTINA - University Of Vienna
item POEPPL, WOLFGANG - Ministry Of Defence
item ANTONIOU, MARIA - University Of Greece - Crete
item CHASKOPOULOU, ALEXANDRA - European Biological Control Laboratory (EBCL)
item PARONYAN, LUSINE - Armenian Ministry Of Health

Submitted to: Parasites & Vectors
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/12/2020
Publication Date: 1/6/2021
Citation: Kniha, E., Dvorak, V., Milchram, M., Obwaller, A.G., Koehsler, M., Poeppl, W., Antoniou, M., Chaskopoulou, A., Paronyan, L. 2021. Phlebotomus (Adlerius) simici NITZULESCU, 1931: first record in Austria and the phylogenetic relationship with other Adlerius species.. Parasites & Vectors. 14:20.

Interpretive Summary: Phlebotomine sand flies are small blood-feeding insects and the vectors of the protozoan parasites Leishmania spp., the causative agent of leishmaniasis, a neglected tropical disease of major veterinary and public health significance. Knowledge of the distribution and species composition of sand fly vectors is important for elucidating the risk of leishmania transmission in Europe and across the world. This is of greatest importance, as a warming climate may lead to further growth of established populations and hence further dispersal. In this study we produced new evidence of northwards expansion of a sand fly vector species and we provided new evidence that morphological identification of specimens is tricky or even impossible and new approaches should be deployed in parallel to morphological conventional techniques. On the other hand molecular identification techniques have limitations and should always be interpreted with caution, particularly for closely related or cryptic species.

Technical Abstract: Phlebotomine sand flies are principal vectors of the protozoan parasites of the genus Leishmania (Kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae). Sand fly findings in Central Europe are scarce and to date, only Phlebotomus mascittii has been recorded in Austria. Entomological surveys were conducted in 2018 and 2019 in Austria with the aim to further clarify sand fly distribution and species composition. In 2019, a P. simici specimen was trapped in Austria for the first time. Analysis of two commonly used marker genes, COI and cyt b, revealed high sequence identity with P. simici from North Macedonia and Greece. Phylogenetic analysis showed high intraspecific distances among P. simici specimens, thereby dividing this species into three lineages from Europe, Turkey and Israel. Low interspecific distances between P. simici, P. brevis and a yet unidentified Adlerius spp. from Turkey and Armenia highlighted that molecular identification can be challenging within the Adlerius complex, even when applying standard marker genes. This study provides the first finding of P. simici in Austria and the northernmost record so far. Moreover, it reveals valuable insights into the phylogenetic relationship of several Adlerius species. P. simici is a suspected vector of Leishmania infantum and therefore of significant medico-veterinary importance. Regarding potential sand fly expansion in Central Europe due to climatic change and the increasing import of Leishmania-infected dogs from endemic areas, further studies are urgently needed to update sand fly distribution in Austria and Central Europe in general.