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One theory proposes an African origin, with migration to the Americas. Several of these genera may be polyphyletic and may need further division. chagasi), since European colonization of the New World, where the parasites picked up their current New World vectors in their respective ecologies. Another proposes migration from the Americas to the Old World via the Bering Strait land bridge around 15 million years ago. Such migrations would entail subsequent migration of vector and reservoir or successive adaptations along the way. infantum from Mediterranean countries to Latin America (known as L.
Molecular studies have cast doubts on this basis for classification and they have been moved to subgenus status within Leishmania. (V.) braziliensis has been proposed as the type species for this subgenus. The species in the Viannia subgenus develop in the hind gut: L. A proposed division of the Leishmania is into Euleishmania and Paraleishmania. Five subgenera are recognised - Leishmania, Paraleishmania, Sauroleishmania, Viannia and the L. The Endotrypanum genus is now recognised as a division of Paraleishmania. They share the same main morphological features; a single flagellum which has an invagination, the flagellar pocket, at its base, a kinetoplast which is found in the single mitochondrion and a subpelicular array of microtubules which make up the main part of the cytoskeleton. Sauroleishmania was originally described by Ranquein 1973 as a separate genus, but molecular studies suggest this is actually a subgenus rather than a separate genus. These groups may be accorded subgenus (or other) status at some point, but their positions remains undefined at present. The biochemistry and cell biology of Leishmania is similar to that of other kinetoplastids.
The division into the two subgenera (Leishmania and Viannia) was made by Lainson and Shaw in 1987 on the basis of their location within the insect gut.