Tools for monitoring the genetic structure and stability of mosquito populations


  • G.C. Lanzaro
  • S. Nuzhdin
  • F. Tripet


Interest in mosquito population genetics has risen dramatically over the past decade, driven mainly by renewed interest in vector control as a means of controlling malaria and dengue fever. Earlier work in mosquito population genetics focused on resolving taxonomic issues, especially in distinguishing and defining the geographic distributions of cryptic taxa that are common in mosquitoes, especially in the genus Anopheles. The lessons learned from this early work include the realization that our concept of vector species is often incorrect and that even at the within-species level substantial genetic divergence among local populations exists. The explosion of research into the molecular genetics of mosquito vectors has dramatically altered the direction of, and interest in, mosquito population genetics. The most obvious difference is in the nature of the genetic markers that lie at the heart of studies aimed at describing the genetics of mosquito populations. Perhaps even more significantly, the study of mosquito molecular biology has led to changes in the questions being asked and in our ability to provide answers. The tools (e.g. markers) and questions are intimately related because the availability of new methodologies has allowed us to seek the answers to questions that seemed intractable in the past. In this paper we discuss several tools that are currently available, but not yet widely used in population-genetics studies. We do not, however, provide a comprehensive review of those tools that are currently used in mosquito population genetics (with the exception of microsatellite DNA), as these have been reviewed elsewhere (Norris 2002)