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Dinner and a show: the role of male copulatory courtship song and female blood-feeding in the reproductive success of Lutzomyia longipalpis from Lapinha, Brazil

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Felipe M. Vigoder, Alejandra S. Araki, Antonio Bernardo de Carvalho, Reginaldo P. Brazil, Michael G. Ritchie

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Lutzomyia longipalpis is the main vector of visceral Leishmaniasis in the Americas and is composed of a species complex. Males of this sand-fly produce acoustic signals during copulation and different patterns are observed among Brazilian populations. Such acoustic signals are commonly involved in species recognition. However, since the song is only produced during copulation it is not clear how it affects mating success or contributes to sexual isolation. Another aspect that may affect reproductive success is the presence of food. Since hematophagy is such an important aspect of L. longipalpis biology, we wanted to test if blood-feeding can influence the reproductive behaviour of this insect. We performed crossing experiments removing males' wings (silencing them) and playing back either the homo-specific or the hetero-specific song to either unfed or blood-fed females. Our results showed that both songs and blood-feeding affect insemination success, but not the frequency of copulation. In trials where females were not blood-fed song clearly affected insemination; males with wings, and males with homo-specific song playback had a higher insemination success than wingless males (no song) and trials with hetero-specific song. Blood-feeding females prior to the trials increased insemination in all groups including the control group which suggests that mating happens simultaneously with, or immediately after, the blood meal. Blood-fed females also seemed to discriminate less against the wrong song or the lack of song (wingless) one day after feeding, however trials with the correct song still had higher insemination rates. Altogether, our results show that both the male copulatory courtship songs and female blood-feeding are important for reproductive success and as such are important components of the sexual behaviour of L. longipalpis.


Original languageEnglish
Article number104470
Number of pages8
JournalInfection Genetics and Evolution
Early online date5 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020

    Research areas

  • Sand flies, Copulatory courtship, Copulation song, Lutzomyia longipalpis, Species complex, Sexual behaviour, Blood-feeding

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