Peritrophic envelopes of Lutzomyia spinicrassa (Diptera: Psychodidae).

L. L. Walters, K. P. Irons, H. Guzman, R. B. Tesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The secretion, morphology, and chemical composition of the peritrophic envelope were studied in the phlebotomine sand fly, Lutzomyia spinicrassa Morales, OsornoMesa, Osorno & Hoyos, a suspected vector of Leishmania braziliensis in Colombia and Venezuela. Viewed under light microscopy, the envelope matured rapidly and could be dissected from the blood bolus as early as 12 h and until 36 h after feeding; subsequently it began to degrade. The envelope was initially a closed sac around the blood meal, but opened posteriorly in most flies by 6 h. The posterior opening may facilitate the migration and establishment of Le. braziliensis in the hindgut. Secretion of envelope precursors was from the entire midgut epithelium. Electron microscopy revealed that electron-dense precursor material (possibly chitin) was present, bathing the microvilli during the first 12 h after blood feeding. This secretion appeared to originate from the bases of the microvilli. From 1 to 36 h, an electron-lucid precursor material (possibly protein) was secreted from the entire length of microvilli and from their bases. Both precursors appeared to be formed at the epithelial surface, not associated with secretory vesicles. The envelope developed rapidly from precursor material, and by 6 h a defined electron-lucid structure was present above the microvilli. Most mature envelopes (12-36 h) were 0.5-2.1 microns thick, multilayered, wholly electron-lucid, and composed of microfibrils and granules. Electron-dense components were seen in some envelopes at 24-36 h. An anterior hyaline plug was present from 12 to 36 h. Envelopes were composed of chitin, protein, and glycoprotein, based on chemical and histochemical tests. The likely presence of several amino acids (lysine, aspartic acid, and glutamic acid) that may cross-link chitin and protein was demonstrated by a positive ninhydrin-Schiff test. This study constitutes the first ultrastructural investigation of peritrophic envelope development by a New World sand fly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)711-725
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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