All members of Triatominae subfamily (Heteroptera: Reduviidae), potential vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi etiologic agent of the Chagas disease, feed on blood. Through evolution, these bugs have fixed special morphological, physiological, and behavioral aptations (adaptations and exaptations) adequate to feed on blood. Phylogeny suggests that triatomines evolved from predator reduvids which in turn descended from phytophagous hemipterans. Some pleisiomorphic traits developed by the reduvid ancestors of the triatomines facilitated and modeled hematophagy in these insects. Among them, mouthparts, saliva composition, enzymes, and digestive symbionts are the most noticeable. However, the decisive step that allowed the shift from predation to hematophagy was a change of behavior. The association of a predator reduvid with nesting vertebrate (≈110 to 32 Ma) permitted the shift from an arthropod prey to a vertebrate host. In this work, we review the phylogeny and dispersion of triatomines and the current controversy over the monophyly or polyphyly of this group. We also discuss how these insects were able to overcome, and even have taken advantage of, diverse ancestral and physical barriers to adapt to sucking blood of nidicolous vertebrates. We provide a Spanish version of this work.
Sociedad de Biología de Chile
Revista chilena de historia natural v.88 2015
Evolution of hematophagous habit in Triatominae (Heteroptera: Reduviidae)