|Sumario:||Background: <i>Triatoma virus</i> (TrV) is the only entomopathogenous virus identified in triatomines. We estimated the potential geographic distribution of triatomine species naturally infected by TrV, using remotely sensed and meteorological environmental variables, to predict new potential areas where triatomines infected with TrV may be found.
Methods: Detection of TrV infection in samples was performed with RT-PCR. Ecological niche models (ENM) were constructed using the MaxEnt software. We used 42 environmental variables derived from remotely sensed imagery (AVHRR) and 19 bioclimatic variables (Bioclim). The MaxEnt Jackknife procedure was used to minimize the number of environmental variables that showed an influence on final models. The goodness of fit of the model predictions was evaluated by the mean area under the curve (AUC).
Results: We obtained 37 samples of 7 species of triatomines naturally infected with TrV. Of the TrV positive samples, 32% were from sylvatic habitat, 46% came from peridomicile habitats and 22% from domicile habitats. Five of the seven infected species were found only in the sylvatic habitat, one species only in the domicile and only <i>Triatoma infestans</i> was found in the three habitats. The MaxEnt model estimated with the Bioclim dataset identified five environmental variables as best predictors: temperature annual range, mean diurnal range, mean temperature of coldest quarter, temperature seasonality and annual mean temperature. The model using the AVHRR dataset identified six environmental variables: minimum Land Surface Temperature (LST), minimum Middle Infrared Radiation (MIR), LST annual amplitude, MIR annual amplitude annual, LST variance and MIR variance. The potential geographic distribution of triatomine species infected by TrV coincides with the Chaco and the Monte ecoregions either modelled by AVHRR or Bioclim environmental datasets.
Conclusions: Our results show that the conditions of the Dry Chaco ecoregion in Argentina are favourable for the infection of triatomine species with TrV, and open the possibility of its use as a potential agent for the biological control of peridomestic and/or sylvatic triatomine species. Results identify areas of potential occurrence that should be verified in the field.|