Life cycle of Leishmania major (Kinetoplastida: Trypanosomatidae) in the neotropical sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis (Diptera: Psychodidae).

L. L. Walters, K. P. Irons, G. Chaplin, R. B. Tesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The development of Leishmania major Yakimoff & Schokhor in the New World sand fly Lutzomyia longipalpis (Lutz & Neiva) was examined by light and electron microscopy. In this unnatural host, parasites differentiated into 10 typical morphological forms, multiplied at three sites, migrated anteriorly and established in the foregut, and attached to gut surfaces. In the blood meal, amastigotes divided and transformed into two successive dividing, stumpy promastigote stages. Elongate nectomonad promastigotes developed from stumpy forms and subsequently rounded up in some flies into paramastigotes and opisthomastigotes. Differentiation into round opisthomastigotes and the apparent fusion of paramastigotes in the blood meal were novel observations in this study. Three nectomonad promastigotes--elongate, short, and metacyclic--were free-swimming in the midgut lumen. Elongate nectomonad promastigotes were highly oriented in the midgut, with their flagella embedded between the epithelial microvilli. Short haptomonad promastigotes were the predominant form attached to the intima of the stomodeal valve, whereas pear-shaped haptomonad promastigotes and paramastigotes colonized surfaces of the esophagus and pharynx. Peripylarian attachment of promastigotes and paramastigotes in the pylorus, ileum, and colon was noted in 21% of flies, suggesting that suprapylarian leishmanias have not lost the ability to colonize the hindgut. L. longipalpis was a successful biological host for L. major, allowing complete development of the parasite.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-718
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • veterinary(all)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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