• Open Access

Population structure, mitochondrial polyphyly and the repeated loss of human biting ability in anopheline mosquitoes from the southwest Pacific


Nigel Beebe, Fax: 07 3365 1655; E-mail: n.beebe@uq.edu.au


Australia and New Guinea contain high levels of endemism and biodiversity, yet there have been few evaluations of population-level genetic diversity in fauna occurring throughout the Australo-Papuan region. Using extensive geographical sampling, we examined and compared the phylogenetic relationships, phylogeography and population structure of Anopheles farauti, An. hinesorum and An. irenicus throughout their ranges in the southwest Pacific using mitochondrial (mtDNA COI) and nuclear (ribosomal protein S9 and ribosomal DNA ITS2) loci. Phylogenetic analyses suggest that the ability to utilize humans as hosts has been lost repeatedly, coincident with independent colonizations of the Solomon Islands. As some of the species under investigation transmit malaria in the region, this is a medically important finding. Maximum likelihood and Bayesian phylogenetic analyses of nuclear loci also showed that the three species are monophyletic. However, putative introgression of An. hinesorum mtDNA onto a nuclear background of An. farauti was evident in populations from Queensland, Torres Strait and southern New Guinea. Haplotype networks and pairwise FST values show that there is significant genetic structure within New Guinea and Australia in both An. farauti and An. hinesorum, consistent with a long-term history of low gene flow among populations.