ISC1, a new Leishmania donovani population emerging in the Indian sub-continent: Vector competence of Phlebotomus argentipes

Veronika Seblova, Jean-Claude Dujardin, Suman Rijal, Malgorzata Anna Domagalska, Petr Volf

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Visceral leishmaniasis (VL), the most severe form of the disease, is caused by Leishmania donovani in the Indian sub-continent (ISC). Whole genome sequencing studies revealed that two parasite populations exist in the ISC: a main population named the Core Group (CG) found mostly in the lowlands, and a new, genetically different subpopulation called ISC1. Parasites belonging to the CG were shown to be responsible for the recent epidemics, while the ISC1 variant was originally identified in hilly districts of Nepal and was later on increasingly found in the lowlands. Importantly, the ISC1 and CG isolates differ in their drug susceptibility and virulence signatures, suggesting that ISC1 constitutes an emerging and functionally different variant of L. donovani. In present study we aimed to address the potential of ISC1 transmission by the natural vector of L. donovani in the lowlands, Phlebotomus argentipes. By experimental infection of sand flies with parasites of the different genotypes, we demonstrate that ISC1 and CG strains are developing similarly in P. argentipes, suggesting that P. argentipes is a fully competent vector for ISC1 parasites. Integration of previous and current findings shows thus that ISC1 is a new and different variant of L. donovani, fully adapted to spread in the ISC through the main vector. This information is directly useful for managers of the elimination program. Furthermore, integration of our successive studies (genotyping, phenotyping and vector competence) demonstrates the relevance of molecular surveillance and should be of interest for scientists working on vector borne diseases and control managers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104073
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Leishmania donovani
  • Sand fly
  • Experimental development


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