DNA analysis of transferred sperm reveals significant levels of gene flow between molecular forms of Anopheles gambiae


Gregory C. Lanzaro. Fax: +1409 747 2437; E-mail:glanzaro@utmb.edu


Anopheles gambiae populations in west Africa are complex, being composed of multiple, sympatric subpopulations. Recent studies have failed to reveal significant genetic differences among subpopulations, stimulating a debate regarding the levels of gene flow among them. The observed homogeneity may be the consequence of substantial contemporary gene flow or it may be that reproductive isolation is complete, but too recent for the accumulation of significant levels of genic divergence. Here, we report the results of a study estimating contemporary levels of gene flow between An. gambiae subpopulations by analysing females and transferred sperm removed from their reproductive systems. A total of 251 female and associated sperm extracts was analysed from a single site in Mali. Two molecular forms of An. gambiae, the M- and S-forms, occurred in sympatry at this site. Overall, we found very strong positive assortative mating within forms, however, we did observe significant hybridization between forms. In the M subpopulation 2/195 females (1.03%) contained sperm from S-form males and in 55 S-form females we found one female containing M-form sperm (1.82%). We also identified a mated M ×S hybrid adult female. From mating frequencies, we estimate the Nem between the M- and S-form at 16.8, and from the adult hybrid frequency at 5.6. These values are consistent with our earlier estimate, based on FST for 21 microsatellite loci in which Nem = 5.8. We conclude that the general lack of genetic divergence between the M and S subpopulations of An. gambiae can be explained entirely by contemporary gene flow.