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Systematics and biogeography of Rhodniini (Heteroptera: Reduviidae: Triatominae) based on 16S mitochondrial rDNA sequences

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Abstract Aim 

The tribe Rhodniini is one of six comprising the subfamily Triatominae (Heteroptera: Reduviidae), notorious as blood-sucking household pests and vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi throughout Latin America. The human and economic cost of this disease in the American tropics is considerable, and these bugs are unquestionably of great importance to man. Studies of the evolution, phylogeny, biogeography, ecology, physiology and behaviour of the Rhodniini are needed to help improve existing Chagas’ disease control programmes. The objective of the study reported here was to propose biogeographical hypotheses to explain the modern geographical distribution of the species of Rhodniini. Location 

Neotropical region. Methods 

We employed mitochondrial rDNA sequences (16S) currently available in GenBank to align sequences of Rhodniini species using ClustalX. The analyses included 16S sequences from predatory reduviid subfamilies (Stenopodainae, Ectrichodiinae, Harpactorinae, Reduviinae and Salyavatinae) present in GenBank as an outgroup. Cladistic analysis used the program PAUP to derive trees based on maximum parsimony (MP) and maximum likelihood (ML). Known distribution data for Rhodniini species were obtained from reviews and plotted on maps of South and Central America using the program iMap. An area cladogram was derived from the cladistic result to show the historical connections among the studied taxa and the endemic areas. The program TreeMap (Jungle Edition) was used to deduce taxon–area associations where the optimal solutions to explain the biogeographical hypothesis of the Rhodniini in the Neotropics were those with lowest total cost. Results 

Parsimony and maximum-likelihood analysis of 16S rDNA sequences included 14 species of Rhodniini, as well as five species of predatory Reduviidae representing five of the predatory subfamilies. Tanglegrams were used to show the relationship between the Neotropical areas of endemism and Rhodniini species. When TreeMap with codivergence (vicariance) events were weighted as 0 and duplication (sympatry), lineage losses (extinction) and host switching (dispersal) were all weighted as 1, 20 scenarios were found to explain the biogeographical history of Rhodniini in the Neotropical region. Twelve of the optimal solutions with the lowest total cost were used to explain the biogeography of the Rhodniini in the Neotropics. These optimal reconstructions require six vicariance events, 20 duplications (sympatry), at least three dispersals, and at least one extinction event. Main conclusions 

The Rhodniini have a complex biogeographical history that has involved vicariance, duplications (sympatry), dispersal and extinction events. The main geological events affecting the origin and diversification of the Rhodniini in the Neotropics were (1) uplift of the Central Andes in the Miocene or later, (2) break-up of the Andes into three separate cordilleras (Eastern, Central and Western) in the Plio-Pleistocene, (3) formation of a land corridor connecting South and North America in the Pliocene, and (4) uplift of the Serra do Mar and Serra da Mantiqueira mountain systems between the Oligocene and Pleistocene. The relationships and biogeographical history of the species of Rhodniini in the Neotropical region probably arose from the areas of endemism shown in our work.
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Keywords: Chagas’ disease control; Hemiptera; Neotropical; Psammolestes; Rhodnius; Triatominae; historical biogeography; rDNA mitochondrial gene

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratório de Triatomíneos e Epidemiologia da Doença de Chagas, Centro de Pesquisas René Rachou/FIOCRUZ, Av. Augusto de Lima 1715, 30190-002 Belo Horizonte, MG 2: Laboratório Nacional e Internacional de Referência em Taxonomia de Triatomíneos, Departamento de Protozoologia, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz/FIOCRUZ, Av. Brasil 4365, 21040-900 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Publication date: 2007-04-01

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