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Revealing the ecology and toxinology of deadly venomous caterpillars from the genus Lonomia in Colombia

In South America, accidents caused by contact with lepidopterous larvae are common and can produce a diversity of reactions that vary from dermatological problems to severe haemorragic syndromes, as caterpillars from the genus Lonomia (Saturniidae) may cause. In Colombia, several cases of medical importance due to contact with L. achelous caterpillars, have been reported. The only treatment available is the anti-lonomia antivenom produced by the Instituto Butantan in Brazil against Lonomia obliqua. Through this project, we aim to improve our knowledge of venomous caterpillars, providing the necessary tools to support development of adequate treatment against Lonomia caterpillars. By understanding species distributions and ecological characteristics, we can design prevention strategies and determine how antivenom supply in distant regions should be guaranteed. The aim of this project is to define Lonomia species present in Colombia, to evaluate their ecological patterns (spatial and temporal distribution) and their toxinology, this way we wish to understand the sudden appearance of this caterpillars and the aggregated spatial distribution of human accidents. We hypothesize that more than one species is responsible for envenoming in humans in Colombia and the number of accidents has increased due to a shift in Lonomia distribution caused by environmental changes.

Certificado en PDF
Número del certificado16D88EE8AA7
Fecha del certificado2019-10-01
Certificado en PDFdescargar (58 KB)
Contacto del recurso
NombreCamila Gonzalez
PosiciónProfesora asociada
OrganizaciónUniversidad de los Andes
Dirección Cra. 1 #18a-12, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, COLOMBIA, Código postal: 111711 Tel: 3394949
Página Web
Contacto del permiso
NombreYiselle Cano
PosiciónAnalista laboratorio
OrganizaciónUniversidad de los Andes
Dirección Cra. 1 #18a-12, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, COLOMBIA, Código postal: 111711 Tel: 3394949
Página Web
Proveedor de los metadatos
NombreCamila Gonzalez
PosiciónProfesora asociada
OrganizaciónUniversidad de los Andes
Dirección Cra. 1 #18a-12, Bogotá, Cundinamarca, COLOMBIA, Código postal: 111711 Tel: 3394949
Página Web
Información del Permiso
Autoridad ambientalAutoridad Nacional de Licencias Ambientales
Número del permisoIDB0359
Titular del permisoUniversidad de los Andes
Nit o cédula860.007.386-1
Fecha de emisión2014-10-09
Cobertura Geográfica
DescripciónColombia CO Meta Guamal Vereda la Paz Colombia CO Casanare Tauramena Finca Terrónduro de José Rodriguez
Coordenadas4.976, 4.976 / -72.605, -72.605 (Latitud mínima, máxima / Longitud mínima/máxima)
Cobertura Taxonómica
Descripción Polillas del género Lonomia identificadas a especie
Especie Lonomia casanarensis, Lonomia orientoandensis
Cobertura Temporal
Fecha inicial / Fecha final2018-06-04 / 2018-08-19
Métodos de Muestreo
Descripción del muestreoMethodologies and techniques to achieve the aims of the project To achieve our specific objectives, we will use the following methodologies: 1. To identify the Lonomia species in Colombia that are presumably involved in accidents we will perform species identification based in adult morphology and associate collected larvae to identified species through the use of DNA barcoding techniques. DNA barcoding will further allow identification of larvae involved in accidents. Taxonomic identification will be part of the proposed one month training in the National History Museum (London) with collaborator Dr Ian Kitching. 2. To describe ecological patterns of spatial and temporal distribution comparing periurban and sylvatic ecosystems we will conduct a field sampling where we will collect moths at light and caterpillars from tree trunks when observed or notified by local people. Field sampling will be performed mainly in Casanare department, where most cases have been notified and Lonomia achelous is known to occur. In Casanare, we will select three municipalities with recent reports of accidents that are spatially separated. Within each municipality we will sample the periurban area and the closest conserved area to try to determine whether the greatest risk of contact is due to caterpillars colonizing trees surrounding houses or if accidents occur mostly to people moving through sylvatic habitats. Additionally, two conserved areas, one in the Orinoquia Region and one in Amazonia, will be sampled two times a year in different seasons. In this way, we will explore the original distributions of Lonomia species in primary forest habitats prior to intervention, and test which of two hypotheses; a) colonization or b) habitat shift due to environmental change is more likely. In each locality, sampling will be conducted four times a year during one year, to allow for seasonal variation of rainy/dry periods. Each sampling will last 5 days in each locality and each habitat (periurban and sylvatic). All collected individuals will be taken to the laboratory at CIMPAT (Universidad de los Andes) for further processing. Based on caterpillar collections we will measure local abundances in each habitat, we will acquire data on species seasonality and host plant specificity. We want to determine whether the increase in accidents is due to colonization of periurban trees by Lonomia or whether accidents are restricted to contact with caterpillars in sylvatic areas. 3. To characterize the venom composition of each identified Lonomia species and 4. To test the efficacy of the anti-lonomia antivenom against all species present in Colombia. Based on caterpillar collections, we will perform venom extraction and characterization using established protocols (11,12,13,14). Different Lonomia species show different venom compositions so this step is critical to support adequate antivenom design. Characterization of venom composition and efficacy of anti-lonomia antivenom will be performed as a part of the training in the Instituto Butantan. 4. To generate risk maps and design an alert system to prevent accidents with Lonomia Our most important goal is to provide health authorities with the necessary information to design adequate prevention strategies. If Lonomia species are colonizing periurban areas due to deforestation, the at-risk population will not only be field workers but also women and children. Under this scenario, accidents are likely to be more frequent and require antivenom doses to be available. Understanding gained through this project will benefit not only local people and health authorities but will allow the generation of strategies to treat accidents involving venomous caterpillars in other countries such as Peru where cases were recently notified.
Palabras Clave
Occurrence Ecology Toxinology Lonomia Colombia; Specimen