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A New Species Concealed by Anopheles funestus Giles, a Major Malaria Vector in Africa

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  • 1 Vector Control Reference Unit, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Division of Virology and Communicable Disease Surveillance, School of Pathology of the University of the Witwatersrand and the National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; National Research Foundation Chair in Medical Entomology and Vector Control, School of Pathology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; National Malaria Control Programme, Lilongwe, Malawi
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The major malaria vector Anopheles funestus belongs to a group of morphologically similar species that are commonly distinguished from one another through the use of chromosomal and molecular techniques. Indoor resting collections of mosquitoes from Malawi were initially identified as An. funestus by morphology, but failed to have this confirmed by the species-specific polymerase chain reaction assay. Sequence analysis of the internal transcribed spacer region 2 identified variations within the An. funestus-specific primer binding site and showed a sequence variation of 4.5% compared with An. funestus. Domain 3 analysis showed sequence variation of 1.5% from An. funestus. Cytogenetic analysis of the polytene chromosome banding arrangements showed that the specimens were homosequential with An. funestus, with fixed inverted arrangements of the 3a, 3b, and 5a inversions commonly polymorphic in An. funestus. The chromosomes of hybrid females showed levels of asynapsis typical of inter-species crosses. These molecular and cytogenetic observations support the conclusion that this Malawi population is a new species and it has provisionally been named An. funestus-like.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: Maureen Coetzee, Vector Control Reference Unit, National Institute for Communicable Diseases, National Health Laboratory Service, Private Bag X4, Sandringham, Johannesburg, 2131, South Africa, E-mail: maureenc@nicd.ac.za.
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