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Keywords:

  • Anopheles gambiae;
  • chromosomal forms;
  • West Africa;
  • rDNA

Abstract

Analyses of inversions in polytene chromosomes indicate that, in West Africa, Anopheles gambiae (sensu stricto) may be a complex of more than a single taxonomic unit, and these units have been called chromosomal forms. In order to determine whether this genetic discontinuity extends to the rest of the genome, as would be expected if reproductive isolation exists, we have sequenced several regions of both the nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. With one exception, we were unable to identify any nucleotide sites that differentiate the chromosomal forms. The exception was the internal transcribed spacer (ITS) of the ribosomal DNA (rDNA). Three sites in this region distinguish Mopti chromosomal form from Savanna and Bamako in Mali and Burkina Faso. However, outside these two countries, the association between chromosomal form and rDNA type does not always hold. Together with the variants in the rDNA intergenic spacer (IGS) described in the accompanying papers (della Torre et al., 2001; Favia et al., 2001), we can recognize two major types of rDNA, Type I and Type II (corresponding to molecular forms S and M in della Torre et al., 2001). Type I is widespread in West Africa and is the only type found outside of West Africa (i.e. Tanzania and Madagascar). Type II is confined to West Africa. We were unable to detect any heterozygosity for the ITS types even in five collections containing both types. A sample from the island of São Tomé could not be classified into either Type I or Type II as the rDNA had characteristics of both. In general, our results confirm that An. gambiae is not a single pan-mictic unit, but exactly how to define any new taxa remains problematic. Finally, we have found minor variants of the major rDNA types fixed in local populations; contrary to most previous studies, this suggests restricted gene flow among populations of this species.