Species-Diagnostic Differences in a Ribosomal DNA Internal Transcribed Spacer from the Sibling Species Anopheles Freeborni and Anopheles Hermsi (Diptera:Culicidae)

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  • Malaria Branch, Division of Parasitic Diseases, Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia

Approximately 460 base pairs (bp) of DNA sequence that included the second internal transcribed spacer (ITS2) and some flanking 5.8S and 28S ribosomal RNA coding regions were compared between the two closely related and morphologically indistinguishable mosquito species Anopheles freeborni and A. hermsi and a third related species, A. occidentalis. Sequences were determined from 14 clones of polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified DNA obtained from four colonies of A. freeborni, two colonies of A. hermsi, and one individual A. occidentalis. Four clones showed independent single bp differences from the consensus for the relevant species. Eleven sites differed between the consensus sequences of A. hermsi and A. freeborni; 28 sites differed between A. hermsi and A. occidentalis. With the exception of a single bp mismatch in the 5.8S and two single bp mismatches near the undetermined junction of the ITS2 and 28S regions, all differences were confined to the ITS2 region. A PCR-based species-diagnostic assay for the cryptic species A. hermsi and A. freeborni was developed; it uses four synthetic oligonucleotides, two derived from areas of interspecies sequence difference in the ITS2, and two derived from highly conserved regions in the flanking coding sequences. Small amounts of mosquito DNA amplified in the presence of these four primers produce fragments of diagnostic size for each species: 900 bp for A. freeborni, 350 bp for A. hermsi, and approximately 1.2–1.4 kb for various other Anopheles species tested. We believe that this general approach to the development of species-diagnostic assays can be extended easily to other complexes of closely related, morphologically indistinguishable species.

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