invasive insects, parasites, trypanosomatids, Crithidia, Blastocrithdia
Alien insect species may present a multifaceted threat to ecosystems into which they are introduced. In addition to the direct damage they may cause, they may also bring novel diseases and parasites and/or have the capacity to vector microorganisms that are already established in the ecosystem and are causing harm. Damage caused by ectoparasitic larvae of the invasive fly, Philornis downsi (Dodge and Aitken) to nestlings of endemic birds in the Galapagos Islands is well documented, but nothing is known about whether this fly is itself associated with parasites or pathogens. In this study, diagnostic molecular methods indicated the presence of insect trypanosomatids in P. downsi; to our knowledge, this is the first record of insect trypanosomatids associated with Philornis species. Phylogenetic estimates and evolutionary distances indicate these species are most closely related to the Crithidia and Blastocrithidia genera, which are not currently reported in the Galapagos Islands. The prevalence of trypanosomatids indicates either P. downsi arrived with its own parasites or that it is a highly suitable host for trypanosomatids already found in the Galapagos Islands, or both. We recommend further studies to determine the origin of the trypanosomatid infections to better evaluate threats to endemic fauna of the Galapagos Islands.
Parker, Patricia; Pike, Courtney; Lincango, María Piedad; and Causton, Charlotte, "Trypanosomatids Detected in the Invasive Avian Parasite Philornis downsi (Diptera: Muscidae) in the Galapagos Islands" (2020). Biology Department Faculty Works. 98.
Available at: https://irl.umsl.edu/biology-faculty/98