Phlebotomus (Adlerius) simici NITZULESCU, 1931: first record in Austria and phylogenetic relationship with other Adlerius species
Background: Phlebotomine sand flies are the principal vectors of Leishmania spp. (Kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae). Sand fly findings in Central Europe are scarce and in Austria, to date only Phlebotomus mascittii has been recorded. In 2018 and 2019, entomological surveys were conducted in Austria with the aim to further clarify sand fly distribution and species composition.Results: In 2019, a Ph. simici specimen was trapped in Austria for the first time. Analyses of two commonly used marker
... monly used marker genes, coxI and cytb, revealed high sequence identity with Ph. simici specimens from North Macedonia and Greece. Phylogenetic analyses showed high intraspecific distances within Ph. simici, thereby dividing this species into three lineages, from Europe, Turkey and Israel, respectively. Low interspecific distances between Ph. simici, Ph. brevis and a yet unidentified Adlerius sp. from Turkey and Armenia highlights that molecular identification can be challenging within the Adlerius complex, even when applying standard marker genes.Conclusion: This study provides the first finding of Ph. simici in Austria and the northernmost record so far. Moreover, it reveals valuable insights into the phylogenetic relationships of species within the Adlerius subgenus. Ph. simici is a suspected vector of Leishmania infantum and therefore of medical and veterinary importance. Potential sand fly expansion in Central Europe due to climatic change and the increasing import of Leishmania-infected dogs from endemic areas, urge the need for further studies on sand fly distribution in Austria and Central Europe in general.