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Keywords:

  • Anopheles funestus;
  • chromosomal inversions;
  • malaria vector;
  • mtDNA;
  • population structure;
  • rDNA

The pattern of sequence variation in the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene (cyt-b) and ribosomal DNA internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2) was examined in Anopheles funestus from Senegal and Burkina Faso in West Africa and Kenya in East Africa. From both West African countries, samples included individuals hypothesized to represent reproductively isolated taxa based upon different karyotypes and behaviours. Analysis of the cyt-b data revealed high haplotypic diversity (86%) and an average pairwise difference per site of 0.42%. Sequence variation was not partitioned by geographical origin or karyotype class. The most common haplotype was sampled across Africa (≈ 6000 km). Analysis of the ITS2 data revealed one of the longest spacers yet found in anophelines (≈ 704 bp). In common with other anopheline ITS2 sequences, this one had microsatellites and frequent runs of individual nucleotides. Also in common with data from other anopheline ITS2 studies, the An. funestus sequences were almost monomorphic, with only two rare polymorphisms detected. The results from both markers are congruent and do not support the hypothesis of reproductively isolated chromosomal taxa within An. funestus. Whether the lack of support by mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and ribosomal DNA (rDNA) sequences is a result of the recent origin of the presumptive taxa, or of the absence of barriers to gene flow, remains to be elucidated, using more rapidly evolving markers such as microsatellites.