Triatoma infestans (Klug) is the main vector of Trypanosoma cruzi, etiologic agent of Chagas disease. The phenotype of the species varies at different geographic scales. The objective of this study was to compare the antennal phenotype of spatially close T. infestans populations and to evaluate its usefulness as a marker of exchange of individuals between populations. The antennal phenotype of 190 T. infestans from Argentina and Bolivia was analyzed using uni- and multivariate techniques. This study shows heterogeneity of the antennal phenotypes of closely related T. infestans populations living in different habitats. Specimens collected in a goat corral and a rabbit cage in La Rioja (Argentina) were dissimilar to the specimens collected in the nearby intradomestic environment. Similarly, specimens from peridomestic corrals in Cochabamba (Bolivia) were different from the intradomestic and sylvatic specimens, indicating some degree of isolation between these populations. In contrast, T. infestans collected in chicken coops and the intradomestic environment were similar, in all studied regions, suggesting a frequent exchange of individuals between the two habitats and/or because of the similarity of the habitat due to the presence of chickens in the intradomestic environment. We propose that each habitat affects in a particular mode the insect morphology and these changes could be used to identify recolonizing T. infestans. These results support the hypothesis of different degrees of isolation between intradomestic and peridomestic habitats. Within this context, special attention should be given to chicken coops and other close peridomestic structures in relation to the recolonization process of domestic habitats by T. infestans.
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Vol. 45 • No. 4