Amazonian malaria vector anopheline relationships interpreted from ITS2 rDNA sequences

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Species identification of anopheline mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) can be problematic because many of them belong to complexes of morphologically similar species, often with contrasted ecology, behaviour and vectorial importance. The application of DNA-based diagnostics has proved to be useful for distinguishing between such species. We determined ribosomal DNA sequences of the second internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) from samples of 16 species of Anopheles captured in the Amazon Basin, Brazil. Length of the ITS2 varied from 323 to 410 base pairs, with GC content ranging from 50.7% to 66.5% and sequence identity from 25% to 99% between species. Maximum-likelihood PAUP analysis separated two distinct groups of species conforming with the recognized subgenera Anopheles (represented by eiseni, mattogrossensis, mediopunctatus and peryassui) and Nyssorhynchus (represented by 12 spp.). For the latter group, the neighbour-joining tree generated from rDNA sequence ITS2 relationships is compatible with the morphological taxonomic key established for these Amazonian species: albitarsis, aquasalis, benarrochi, braziliensis, darlingi, deaneorum, dunhami, evansae, nuneztovari, oswaldoi, rangeli and triannulatus. These ITS2 sequence data proved to be a useful tool for species identification and, potentially, to solve taxonomic problems.

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