DNA barcoding for identification of sand fly species (Diptera: Psychodidae) from leishmaniasis-endemic areas of Peru

Chukwunonso O. Nzelu, Abraham G. Cáceres, Martín J. Arrunátegui-Jiménez, Máximo F. Lañas-Rosas, Henrry H. Yañez-Trujillano, Deysi V. Luna-Caipo, Carlos E. Holguín-Mauricci, Ken Katakura, Yoshihisa Hashiguchi, Hirotomo Kato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Phlebotomine sand flies are the only proven vectors of leishmaniases, a group of human and animal diseases. Accurate knowledge of sand fly species identification is essential in understanding the epidemiology of leishmaniasis and vector control in endemic areas. Classical identification of sand fly species based on morphological characteristics often remains difficult and requires taxonomic expertise. Here, we generated DNA barcodes of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 (COI) gene using 159 adult specimens morphologically identified to be 19 species of sand flies, belonging to 6 subgenera/species groups circulating in Peru, including the vector species. Neighbor-joining (NJ) analysis based on Kimura 2-Parameter genetic distances formed non-overlapping clusters for all species. The levels of intraspecific genetic divergence ranged from 0 to 5.96%, whereas interspecific genetic divergence among different species ranged from 8.39 to 19.08%. The generated COI barcodes could discriminate between all the sand fly taxa. Besides its success in separating known species, we found that DNA barcoding is useful in revealing population differentiation and cryptic diversity, and thus promises to be a valuable tool for epidemiological studies of leishmaniasis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalActa Tropica
StatePublished - 1 May 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology ( MEXT ) of Japan (Grant nos. 23256002 and 25257501 ), the Program for Leading Graduate Schools “Fostering Global Leaders in Veterinary Science for Contributing to One Health” (FO1), MEXT, Japan. CON is a recipient of the Japanese Government Ministry of Education, Culture, Science and Technology (MEXT) PhD fellowship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier B.V.


  • DNA barcode
  • Leishmaniasis
  • Peru
  • Sand flies
  • Vector


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