An analysis of two island groups as potential sites for trials of transgenic mosquitoes for malaria control



Gregory C. Lanzaro, Vector Genetics Laboratory, Department of Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.

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Considerable technological advances have been made towards the generation of genetically modified mosquitoes for vector control. In contrast, less progress has been made towards field evaluations of transformed mosquitoes which are critical for evaluating the success of, and hazards associated with, genetic modification. Oceanic islands have been highlighted as potentially the best locations for such trials. However, population genetic studies are necessary to verify isolation. Here, we used a panel of genetic markers to assess for evidence of genetic isolation of two oceanic island populations of the African malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae s.s. We found no evidence of isolation between the Bijagós archipelago and mainland Guinea-Bissau, despite separation by distances beyond the known dispersal capabilities of this taxon. Conversely, the Comoros Islands appear to be genetically isolated from the East African mainland, and thus represent a location worthy of further investigation for field trials. Based on assessments of gene flow within and between the Comoros islands, the island of Grande Comore was found to be genetically isolated from adjacent islands and also exhibited local population structure, indicating that it may be the most suitable site for trials with existing genetic modification technologies.