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Identification of bloodmeals in haematophagous Diptera by cytochrome B heteroduplex analysis


Dr T. R. Unnasch, Division of Geographic Medicine, BBRB Box 7, University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL 35294–2170, U.S.A. E-mail:


We developed a DNA assay for bloodmeal identification in haematophagous insects. Specific host cytochrome B gene sequences were amplified by PCR and classified on the basis of their mobility in a heteroduplex assay. In the blackfly Simulium damnosum s.l. (Diptera: Simuliidae), human cytochrome B DNA sequences were identifiable up to 3 days following ingestion of the bloodmeal. In the tsetse Glossina palpalis (Diptera: Glossinidae) collected from tsetse traps in Ivory Coast, bloodmeals were identified as taken from domestic pigs on the basis of their heteroduplex pattern and DNA sequence. Evidently the cytochrome B sequence shows sufficient interspecific variation to distinguish between mammalian host samples, while exhibiting minimal intraspecific variation. The stability of DNA in bloodmeals, for several days post-ingestion by haematophagous insects, allows PCR-HDA assays to be used reliably for host identification.