The sandfly Lutzomyia longipalpis
is the main vector of American Visceral Leishmaniasis. L. longipalpis s.l.
is a species complex but until recently the existence of cryptic sibling species among Brazilian populations was a controversial issue. A fragment of paralytic (para)
, a voltage dependent sodium channel gene associated with insecticide resistance and courtship song production in Drosophila
, was isolated and used as a molecular marker to study the divergence between two sympatric siblings of the L. longipalpis complex from Sobral, Brazil. The results revealed para as the first single locus DNA marker presenting fixed differences between the two species in this locality. In addition, two low frequency amino-acid changes in an otherwise very conserved region of the channel were observed, raising the possibility that it might be associated with incipient resistance in this vector. To the best of our knowledge, the present study represents the first population genetics analysis of insecticide resistance genes in this important leishmaniasis vector.