Genetic analysis of leishmania parasites in Ecuador: are Leishmania (Viannia) panamensis and Leishmania (V.) Guyanensis distinct taxa?

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  • 1 Centre d'Etudes sur le Polymorphisme des Microorganismes, Unité Mixte de Recherche no. 9926, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Montpellier, France.

In the course of an epidemiologic survey in Ecuador, the following collection of Leishmania stocks was isolated: 28 from patients with clinical signs of leishmaniasis, 2 from sloths, 1 from a dog, and 4 from sand flies. For genetic characterization of these stocks, multilocus enzyme electrophoresis (MLEE) and random amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) were used. Twenty six of the 35 stocks were identified as either Leishmania (V.) panamensis or L. (V.) guyanensis, 2 stocks were identified as L. (V.) braziliensis, the 2 stocks from sloths showed specific genotypes, and 5 stocks were characterized as hybrids between L. (V.) braziliensis and L. (V.) guyanensis. These data show that genetic diversity of Leishmania in Ecuador is high and that L. (V.) panamensis/guyanensis is the dominant group in this country. The genetic analysis questioned the distinctness between the two species L.(V.) panamensis and L. (V.) guyanensis, since MLEE and RAPD data did not indicate that L. (V.) panamensis and L. (V.) guyanensis correspond to distinct monophyletic lines. Population genetic analysis performed on the L. (V.) panamensis/guyanensis group favors the hypothesis of a basically clonal population structure.