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Mol Biol Evol. 2001 Jul;18(7):1353-64.

Evidence for recent population expansion in the evolutionary history of the malaria vectors Anopheles arabiensis and Anopheles gambiae.

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Division of Parasitic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.


Gene flow in malaria vectors is usually estimated based on differentiation indices (e.g., F(ST)) in order to predict the contemporary spread of genes such as those conferring resistance to insecticides. This approach is reliant on a number of assumptions, the most crucial, and the one most likely to be violated in these species, being mutation-migration-drift equilibrium. Tests of this assumption for the African malaria vectors Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles arabiensis are the focus of this study. We analyzed variation at 18 microsatellite loci and the ND5 region of the mitochondrial genome in two populations of each species. Equilibrium was rejected by six of eight tests for the A. gambiae population from western Kenya and by three tests in eastern Kenya. In western Kenya, all departures from equilibrium were consistent with a recent population expansion, but in eastern Kenya, there were traces of a recent expansion and a bottleneck. Equilibrium was also rejected by two of the eight tests for both A. arabiensis populations; the departure from equilibrium was consistent with an expansion. These multiple-locus tests detected a genomewide effect and therefore a demographic event rather than a locus-specific effect, as would be caused by selection. Disequilibrium due to a recent expansion in these species implies that rates of gene flow, as inferred from differentiation indices, are overestimates as they include a historical component. We argue that the same effect applies to the majority of pest species due to the correlation of their demography with that of humans.

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