Molecular variation, systematics and distribution of the Anopheles fluviatilis complex in southern Asia

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Species of the Anopheles fluviatilis James and Anopheles minimus complexes (Diptera: Culicidae) are difficult to distinguish morphologically. Members of the two complexes have been confused and, consequently, their distributions and roles in malaria transmission are uncertain. We identified numerous mosquitoes from China, Thailand, Vietnam, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Iran by single-strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) and/or sequencing, and analysed the variation in the 28S D3 region of ribosomal DNA for members of the Minimus Subgroup and also the internal transcribed spacer region 2 (ITS2) for members of the An. fluviatilis complex. The D3 region is highly conserved between taxa and therefore could serve as a standard for molecular diagnosis of the subgroup members. D3 sequence, bionomics and malaria transmission data provide further evidence that An. fluviatilis S in India is conspecific with An. minimus C in South-east Asia. An. fluviatilis T has three ITS2 haplotypes (designated T1, T2 and Y) and its distribution in India, Nepal, Pakistan and Iran is confirmed. An. fluviatilis U is well defined on cytogenetic grounds in Uttar Pradesh, India, but is very close to An. fluviatilis T and the two species may hybridize in some regions. Variant ITS2 sequences suggest the possible existence of two additional taxa within the An. fluviatilis complex, one in Iran and another in India, provisionally designated An. fluviatilis forms V and X, respectively. The distributions of members of the An. fluviatilis and An. minimus complexes in south-central Asia are summarized.

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