Molecular genetic analysis of populations of Wohlfahrt's wound myiasis fly,Wohlfahrtia magnifica, in outbreak populations from Greece and Morocco

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Abstract

Wohlfahrt's wound myiasis fly, Wohlfahrtia magnifica (Schiner) (Diptera: Sarcophagidae), is the most important cause of traumatic myiasis in the southern Palaearctic region. Larval stages are obligate parasites and the wounds caused by infestations are very similar to those caused by Old and New World screwworm flies. During the last decade, W. magnifica appears to have expanded its range to parts of northern and central Morocco, and to Crete, Greece. Specimens of W. magnifica were collected in Morocco and Crete either as larvae (preserved in 80% ethanol) or as adults (dry-pinned). Comparison specimens were collected in Spain, Hungary and mainland Greece. A DNA fragment containing the 3′ 715 base pairs of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene was amplified by polymerase chain reaction from each of 132 larvae or adults of W. magnifica and the amplicons were directly sequenced and analysed phylogeographically. Twelve cytochrome b haplotypes were detected. All haplotypes from Morocco belonged to a lineage that included specimens from the Iberian peninsula, and restricted mixing of central and northern populations in Morocco was demonstrated. Cytochrome b haplotyping combined with an analysis of larval size provided clear evidence of multiple infestations of hosts in all geographical areas, with one quarter of wounds containing larvae from two to at least four females. More than 80% of specimens from Crete contained a haplotype predominating in mainland Greece and Hungary. Our survey indicated that wohlfahrtiosis was more widespread in northern and central Morocco than previously recorded by government veterinarians. However, the prevalence of wohlfahrtiosis was low (< 1%). The high genetic diversity of Moroccan populations is consistent with longterm endemicity, rather than recent introduction. Crete showed a higher prevalence of wohlfahrtiosis (≤ 15%) and less genetic diversity of W. magnifica, which is consistent with a recent introduction. The western and eastern Mediterranean lineages may have been isolated in different Pleistocene ice-age refugia, from which there has been limited post-glacial dispersal.

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