Identification of Single Specimens of the Anopheles Gambiae Complex by the Polymerase Chain Reaction

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

A ribosomal DNA-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method has been developed for species identification of individuals of the five most widespread members of the Anopheles gambiae complex, a group of morphologically indistinguishable sibling mosquito species that includes the major vectors of malaria in Africa. The method, which is based on species-specific nucleotide sequences in the ribosomal DNA intergenic spacers, may be used to identify both species and interspecies hybrids, regardless of life stage, using either extracted DNA or fragments of a specimen. Intact portions of a mosquito as small as an egg or the segment of one leg may be placed directly into the PCR mixture for amplification and analysis. The method uses a cocktail of five 20-base oligonucleotides to identify An. gambiae, An. arabiensis, An. quadriannnulatus, and either An. melas in western Africa or An. melas in eastern and southern Africa.

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