Exploring the diversity of blood-sucking Diptera in caves of Central Africa

Abstract : Caves house pathogenic microorganisms, some of which are transmitted by blood-sucking arthropods. In Africa, previous studies identified mosquitoes, sand flies and biting midges as the main potential vectors of cave-dwelling pathogens. However, to understand their involvement in pathogen spillover, it is crucial to characterize their diversity, community composition and dynamics. Using CDC light traps, we collected hematophagous Diptera in six caves of Gabon during one-shot or longitudinal sampling, and investigated their species diversity and dynamics in relation with external rainfall. Overall, we identified 68 species of mosquitoes, sand flies and biting midges, including 45 new records for Gabon. The dominant species were: Uranotaenia nigromaculata, Anopheles smithii s.l., Culex. rima group and Culex quasiguiarti for mosquitoes, Spelaeophlebotomus gigas and Spelaeomyia emilii for sand flies and the Culicoides trifasciellus group and Culicoides fulvithorax for biting midges. The survey revealed that species assemblages were cave-specific and included mainly troglophilous and trogloxenous species. Both diversity and abundance varied according to the cave and sampling time, and were significantly associated with rainfall. These associations were modulated by the cave specific environmental conditions. Moreover, the presence of trogloxenous and troglophilous species could be of high significance for pathogen transfers between cave and epigeous hosts, including humans.
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Judicaël Obame-Nkoghe, Nil Rahola, Diego Ayala, Patrick Yangari, Davy Jiolle, et al.. Exploring the diversity of blood-sucking Diptera in caves of Central Africa. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2017, 7, pp.250. ⟨10.1038/s41598-017-00328-z⟩. ⟨hal-02013650⟩

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