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Vector-borne diseases are a significant public health problem worldwide. Among the arthropod vectors that include sand flies, mosquitoes and ticks, phlebotomine sand flies are the object of several research topics because they transmit pathogens such as Leishmania, viruses, and bacteria. Leishmaniases are the ...

Vector-borne diseases are a significant public health problem worldwide. Among the arthropod vectors that include sand flies, mosquitoes and ticks, phlebotomine sand flies are the object of several research topics because they transmit pathogens such as Leishmania, viruses, and bacteria. Leishmaniases are the most important illnesses caused by protozoans belonging to the Leishmania genus. These multi-spectrum diseases present symptoms that vary from ulcerative skin lesions to mucosal deforming lesions (tegumentary leishmaniasis) or liver and spleen hypertrophy (visceral leishmaniasis). Among the viruses transmitted by sand flies, Phleboviruses are considered the most significant because many of these are human pathogens causing symptoms varying from short-term fever to meningitis, encephalitis and haemorrhagic fever. In addition, sand flies from the Lutzomyia genus have also been incriminated as vectors of the bacteria causing bartonellosis. This disease is characterized by symptoms such as fever and hemolytic anaemia and in a later phase can produce nodular skin lesions.

While much is known about mosquito interactions with pathogens such as malaria-causing plasmodia and arboviruses, our knowledge on the molecular mechanisms underlying sand fly interactions with pathogens they transmit has several aspects yet to be uncovered. To date, more than 90 phlebotomine species have been identified as vectors of neglected diseases and several factors such as climate change and host and vector distribution can influence how sand flies get exposed to such pathogens. More specifically, the mechanisms involved in their vector competence, sand fly species specificity to a pathogen, the burden it may cause to the vector, and the complex balance between commensal and pathogenic microorganisms can significantly vary across a wide range of sand flies. Deeper knowledge of the interactions between the sand fly and these pathogens could lead to the discovery of new methods to block sand fly-transmitted diseases.

Specific themes could include:

- Vector immune responses to pathogens.
- Vector feeding habits and the effect on pathogen establishment.
- Identification and characterization of vector or pathogen molecules responsible for the infection establishment.
- The role of sand fly microbiome in vector-pathogen interaction.
- Development of alternative methods for interfering with pathogen development in the insect.
- Development of transmission blocking vaccine
- Molecular markers associated with vector competence
- Population genetics of sand fly vectors related to vector competence
- Co-infection and effect on disease transmission and clinical outcome

Inquiries regarding other themes related to this Research Topic but not listed above may be addressed to the editorial staff.

Keywords: Sand flies, Leishmania, virus, bacteria, vector-pathogen interaction


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