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Modelling sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis attraction to host odour: synthetic sex-aggregation pheromone dominates the response.

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Article number602
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/03/2021
Issue number3
Number of pages10
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Zoontic visceral leishmaniasis (ZVL) due to Leishmania infantum is a potentially fatal protozoan parasitic disease of humans and dogs. In the Americas, dogs are the reservoir and the sand fly, Lutzomyia longipalpis, the principal vector. A synthetic version of the male sand fly produced sex-aggregation pheromone attracts both female and male conspecifics to co-located insecticide, reducing both reservoir infection and vector abundance. However the effect of the synthetic pheromone on the vector’s “choice“ of host (human, animal reservoir, or dead-end host) for blood feeding in the presence of the pheromone is less well understood. In this study, we developed a modelling framework to allow us to predict the relative attractiveness of the synthetic pheromone and potential alterations in host choice. Our analysis indicates that the synthetic pheromone can attract 53% (95% CIs: 39%–86%) of host-seeking female Lu. longipalpis and thus it out-competes competing host odours. Importantly, the results suggest that the synthetic pheromone can lure vectors away from humans and dogs, such that when co-located with insecticide, it provides protection against transmission leading to human and canine ZVL.