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Analysis of the genetic structure of interspecific crosses using species of the genus Mepraia (Hemiptera, Reduviidae, Triatominae)

Grant number: 22/01894-4
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): February 05, 2023
Effective date (End): February 04, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Parasitology - Entomology and Malacology of Parasites and Vectors
Principal Investigator:Mauro Toledo Marrelli
Grantee:Jader de Oliveira
Supervisor: Yvonne-Marie Linton
Host Institution: Faculdade de Saúde Pública (FSP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, United States  
Associated to the scholarship:19/02145-2 - Analysis of the genetic structure of interspecific crosses using species of the genus Mepraia (Hemiptera, Reduviidae, Triatominae)., BP.PD


The triatomines are vectors of the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, etiologic agent of Chagas disease, which are widely distributed mainly in the Americas. In Chile, there are four species of vectors of this disease, namely, Mepraia gajardoi, M. spinolai, M. parapatrica and Triatoma infestans. In addition to the vector importance in the transmission of Chagas disease, triatomines are biological models for cell studies and contribute to the knowledge of insect physiology and evolution. The interspecific crosses of triatomines have been quite intriguing when considering the biological species concept, since natural and/or artificial hybridization occurs with a certain frequency in the subfamily Triatominae, suggesting the importance of following with the crosses until at least the third generation (F3) so that barriers of post-zygotic reproductive isolation can be characterized. Based on recent questions about the specific status of M. parapatrica (present in the distribution limits of the other Mepraia species, which led to the suggestion that it is a hybrid between the species and M. gajardoi) and, mainly, in the importance of cytogenetics and experimental crossings for the taxonomy of Triatominae, the present project aims to perform a multidisciplinary and integrated analysis of evolutionary (pre and post-zygotic barriers) and taxonomic aspects in Mepraia spp., through crossings between M. parapatrica x M. spinolai and M. parapatrica x M. gajardoi and analysis of the resulting hybrids up to third generation (F3), with emphasis on the analysis of the evolutionary dynamics of experimental crosses (copulation, oviposition, hatching and hybrid development), as well as in the genotypic analysis of parental and experimental hybrids. In addition, it is intended to verify genetic variability through whole genome sequencing of the parents and hybrids. These results will allow to elucidate evolutionary and taxonomic issues related to M. parapatrica and shed light in the specieation and hybridization processes in Triatominae. (AU)

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