Triatominae: Does the shape change of non-viable eggs compromise species recognition?
© 2018 The Author(s). Background: Eggs have epidemiological and taxonomic importance in the subfamily Triatominae, which contains Chagas disease vectors. The metric properties (size and shape) of eggs are useful for distinguishing between close species, or different geographical populations of the same species. Methods: We examined the effects of egg viability on its metric properties, and the possible consequences on species recognition. Four species were considered: Panstrongylus chinai, P. howardi and Triatoma carrioni (tribe Triatomini), and Rhodnius ecuadoriensis (tribe Rhodniini). Digitization was performed on pictures taken when the viability of the egg could not clearly be predicted by visual inspection. We then followed development to separate viable from non-viable eggs, and the metric changes associated with viability status of the eggs were tested for species discrimination (interspecific difference). Results: The shape of the complete contour of the egg provided satisfactory species classification (95% of correct assignments, on average), with improved scores (98%) when discarding non-viable eggs from the comparisons. Using only non-viable eggs, the scores dropped to 90%. The morphometric differences between viable and non-viable eggs were also explored (intraspecific comparison). A constant metric change observed was a larger variance of size and shape in non-viable eggs. For all species, larger eggs, or eggs with larger operculum, were more frequently non-viable. However, these differences did not allow for an accurate prediction regarding egg viability. Conclusions: The strong taxonomic signal present in egg morphology was affected by the level of viability of the eggs. The metric properties as modified in non-viable eggs presented some general trends which could suggest the existence of an optimum phenotype for size and for shape. Globally, viable eggs tended to have intermediate or small sizes, and presented a less globular shape in the Triatomini, or a relatively wider neck in Rhodnius ecuadoriensis.
Santillán-Guayasamín, Soledad; Villacís, Anita G.; Grijalva, Mario J.; and Dujardin, Jean Pierre, "Triatominae: Does the shape change of non-viable eggs compromise species recognition?" (2018). Biomedical Sciences Open Access Publications. 86.