Evidence for subdivision within the M molecular form of Anopheles gambiae


Michel A. Slotman, Present address: Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, 21 Sachem Street, New Haven, CT 06520, USA. Fax: 203 4325176; E-mail: michel.slotman@yale.edu.


The principal vector of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, Anopheles gambiae is subdivided into two molecular forms M and S. Additionally, several chromosomal forms, characterized by the presence of various inversion polymorphisms, have been described. The molecular forms M and S each contain several chromosomal forms, including the Savanna, Mopti and Forest forms. The M and S molecular forms are now considered to be the reproductive units within A. gambiae and it has recently been argued that a low recombination rate in the centromeric region of the X chromosome has facilitated isolation between these forms. The status of the chromosomal forms remains unclear however. Therefore, we studied genetic differentiation between Savanna S, Forest S, Forest M and Mopti M populations using microsatellites. Genetic differentiation between Savanna S and Forest S populations is very low (FST = 0.0053 ± 0.0049), even across large distances. In comparison, the Mopti M and Forest M populations show a relatively high degree of genetic differentiation (FST = 0.0406 ± 0.0054) indicating that the M molecular form may not be a single entity, but could be subdivided into at least two distinct chromosomal forms. Previously it was proposed that inversions have played a role in the origin of species within the A. gambiae complex. We argue that a possible subdivision within the M molecular form could be understood through this process, with the acquisition of inversions leading to the expansion of the M molecular form into new habitat, dividing it into two distinct chromosomal forms.