Send to

Choose Destination
Malar J. 2009 Dec 9;8:282. doi: 10.1186/1475-2875-8-282.

Development of multiplex real-time PCR assays for identification of members of the Anopheles funestus species group.

Author information

Vector Control Reference Unit, National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the NHLS, Private Bag X4, Sandringham, Johannesburg 2131, South Africa.



The malaria vector and non-vector species of the Anopheles funestus group are morphologically very similar and accurate identification is required as part of effective control strategies. In the past, this has relied on morphological and cytogenetic methods but these have been largely superseded by a robust allele-specific PCR (AS-PCR). One disadvantage of AS-PCR is the requirement for post-PCR processing by gel electrophoresis of PCR products. In this study, three new high-throughput 'closed-tube' assays were developed and compared with the previously described AS-PCR technique.


Protocols for three fluorescence-based assays based on Melt Curve Analysis (MCA), High Resolution Melt (HRM) and TaqMan SNP genotyping were developed to detect and discriminate Anopheles parensis, Anopheles leesoni, Anopheles vaneedeni, Anopheles rivulorum and An. funestus s.s. The sensitivity and specificity of these assays were compared with the widely used AS-PCR in a blind trial using DNA extracted from wild-caught mosquitoes.


The TaqMan assay proved to be the most sensitive and specific of the three new assays. The MCA and HRM assays initially gave promising results, but were more sensitive to both DNA quality and quantity and consequently showed a higher rate of incorrect identifications.


The TaqMan assay proved to be the most robust of the three protocols tested in this study. This assay very effectively identified all five members of the An. funestus group using fluorescently-labeled probes with distinct emission and excitation spectra allowing their independent detection in a single reaction. This method is at least as sensitive and specific as the gold standard AS-PCR approach and because it has no requirement for post-PCR processing is simpler and more rapid to run. The one disadvantage of the TaqMan assay is the cost of this assay, both in terms of initial capital outlay and running cost per sample, which is higher than AS-PCR. However, the cost of both the real-time PCR machine and fluorescently labelled probes required is falling and in the future the cost of this assay is likely to become closer to that of standard PCR.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for BioMed Central Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center