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1.  Divergent transcriptional response to thermal stress by Anopheles gambiae larvae carrying alternative arrangements of inversion 2La 
Molecular ecology  2011;20(12):2567-2580.
The African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae is polymorphic for chromosomal inversion 2La, whose frequency strongly correlates with degree of aridity across environmental gradients. Recent physiological studies have associated 2La with resistance to desiccation in adults and thermal stress in larvae, consistent with its proposed role in aridity tolerance. However, the genetic basis of these traits remains unknown. To identify genes that could be involved in the differential response to thermal stress, we compared global gene expression profiles of heat hardened 2La or 2L+a larvae at three time points, for up to eight hours following exposure to the heat stress. Treatment and control time series, replicated four times, revealed a common and massive induction of a core set of heat shock genes regardless of 2La orientation. However, clear differences between the 2La and 2L+a arrangements emerged at the earliest (0.25 h) time point, in the intensity and nature of the stress response. Overall, 2La was associated with the more aggressive response: larger numbers of genes were heat responsive and up-regulated. Transcriptionally induced genes were enriched for functions related to ubiquitin-proteasomal degradation, chaperoning, and energy metabolism. The more muted transcriptional response of 2L+a was largely repressive, including genes involved in proteolysis and energy metabolism. These results may help explain the maintenance of the 2La inversion polymorphism in An. gambiae, as the survival benefits offered by high thermal sensitivity in harsh climates could be offset by the metabolic costs of such a drastic response in more equable climates.
PMCID: PMC3686099  PMID: 21535279
Anopheles gambiae; chromosomal inversion; heat hardening; malaria vector; microarray; thermal stress; transcriptional profiling
2.  Genetic association of physically unlinked islands of genomic divergence in incipient species of Anopheles gambiae 
Molecular ecology  2010;19(5):925-939.
Previous efforts to uncover the genetic underpinnings of ongoing ecological speciation of the M and S forms of the African malaria vector Anopheles gambiae revealed two centromere-proximal islands of genetic divergence on X and chromosome 2. Under the assumption of considerable ongoing gene flow between M and S, these persistently divergent genomic islands were widely considered to be “speciation islands”. In the course of microarray-based divergence mapping, we discovered a third centromere-associated island of divergence on chromosome 3, which was validated by targeted re-sequencing. To test for genetic association between the divergence islands on all three chromosomes, SNP-based assays were applied in four natural populations of M and S spanning West, Central and East Africa. Genotyping of 517 female M and S mosquitoes revealed nearly complete linkage disequilibrium between the centromeres of the three independently assorting chromosomes. These results suggest that despite the potential for inter-form gene flow through hybridization, actual (realized) gene flow between M and S may be substantially less than commonly assumed, and may not explain most shared variation. Moreover, the possibility of very low gene flow calls into question whether diverged pericentromeric regions-- characterized by reduced levels of variation and recombination-- are in fact instrumental rather than merely incidental to the speciation process.
PMCID: PMC3683534  PMID: 20149091
centromeres; divergent adaptation; ecological speciation; malaria vector; reproductive isolation; speciation islands
3.  Differential gene expression in incipient species of Anopheles gambiae 
Molecular ecology  2008;17(10):2491-2504.
A speciation process is ongoing in the primary vector of malaria in Africa, Anopheles gambiae. Assortatively mating incipient species known as the M and S forms differentially exploit larval breeding sites associated with different ecological settings. However, some ongoing gene flow between M and S limits significant genomic differentiation mainly to small centromere-proximal regions on chromosomes X and 2L, termed “speciation islands” with the expectation that they contain the genes responsible for reproductive isolation. As the speciation islands exhibit reduced recombination and low polymorphism, more detailed genetic analysis using fine-scale mapping is impractical. We measured global gene expression differences between M and S using oligonucleotide microarrays, with the goal of identifying candidate genes that could be involved in this ongoing speciation process. Gene expression profiles were examined in two independent colonies of both forms at each of three developmental periods of interest: fourth instar larvae, virgin females, and gravid females. Patterns were validated on a subset of genes using quantitative real-time reverse transcription PCR of RNA samples from laboratory colonies and wild mosquitoes collected from Cameroon and Burkina Faso. Considered across all three developmental periods, differentially expressed genes represented ~1-2% of all expressed genes. Although disproportionately represented in the X speciation island, the vast majority of genes were located outside any speciation island. Compared to samples from the other developmental periods, virgin females were characterized by more than twice as many differentially expressed genes, most notably those implicated in olfaction and potentially, mate recognition.
PMCID: PMC3670799  PMID: 18430144
4.  Genetic structure of Anopheles gambiae populations on islands in northwestern Lake Victoria, Uganda 
Malaria Journal  2005;4:59.
Alternative means of malaria control are urgently needed. Evaluating the effectiveness of measures that involve genetic manipulation of vector populations will be facilitated by identifying small, genetically isolated vector populations. The study was designed to use variation in microsatellite markers to look at genetic structure across four Lake Victoria islands and two surrounding mainland populations and for evidence of any restriction to free gene flow.
Four Islands (from 20–50 km apart) and two surrounding mainland populations (96 km apart) were studied. Samples of indoor resting adult mosquitoes, collected over two consecutive years, were genotyped at microsatellite loci distributed broadly throughout the genome and analysed for genetic structure, effective migration (Nem) and effective population size (Ne).
Ne estimates showed island populations to consist of smaller demes compared to the mainland ones. Most populations were significantly differentiated geographically, and from one year to the other. Average geographic pair-wise FST ranged from 0.014–0.105 and several pairs of populations had Ne m < 3. The loci showed broad heterogeneity at capturing or estimating population differences.
These island populations are significantly genetically differentiated. Differences reoccurred over the study period, between the two mainland populations and between each other. This appears to be the product of their separation by water, dynamics of small populations and local adaptation. With further characterisation these islands could become possible sites for applying measures evaluating effectiveness of control by genetic manipulation.
PMCID: PMC1327676  PMID: 16336684
5.  Cuticular differences associated with aridity acclimation in African malaria vectors carrying alternative arrangements of inversion 2La 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:176.
Principal malaria vectors in Africa, An. gambiae and An. coluzzii, share an inversion polymorphism on the left arm of chromosome 2 (2La/2L+a) that is distributed non-randomly in the environment. Genomic sequencing studies support the role of strong natural selection in maintaining steep clines in 2La inversion frequency along environmental gradients of aridity, and physiological studies have directly implicated 2La in heat and desiccation tolerance, but the precise genetic basis and the underlying behavioral and physiological mechanisms remain unknown. As the insect cuticle is the primary barrier to water loss, differences in cuticle thickness and/or epicuticular waterproofing associated with alternative 2La arrangements might help explain differences in desiccation resistance.
To test that hypothesis, two subcolonies of both An. gambiae and An. coluzzii were established that were fixed for alternative 2La arrangements (2La or 2L+a) on an otherwise homosequential and shared genetic background. Adult mosquitoes reared under controlled environmental conditions (benign or arid) for eight days post-eclosion were collected and analyzed. Measurements of cuticle thickness were made based on scanning electron microscopy, and cuticular hydrocarbon (CHC) composition was evaluated by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry.
After removing the allometric effects of body weight, differences in mean cuticle thickness were found between alternative 2La karyotypes, but not between alternative environments. Moreover, the thicker cuticle of the An. coluzzii 2La karyotype was contrary to the known higher rate of water loss of this karyotype relative to 2L+a. On the other hand, quantitative differences in individual CHCs and overall CHC profiles between alternative karyotypes and environmental conditions were consistent with expectation based on previous physiological studies.
Our results suggest that alternative arrangements of the 2La inversion are associated with differences in cuticle thickness and CHC composition, but that only CHC composition appears to be relevant for desiccation resistance. Differences in the CHC composition were consistent with previous findings of a lower rate of water loss for the 2L+a karyotype at eight days post-eclosion, suggesting that CHC composition is an important strategy for maintaining water balance in this genetic background, but not for 2La. Despite a higher rate of water loss at eight days, higher body water content of the 2La karyotype confers a level of desiccation resistance equivalent to that of the 2L+a karyotype.
PMCID: PMC3991895  PMID: 24721548
An. gambiae; An. coluzzii; Cuticular hydrocarbons; Chromosomal inversion; Cuticle; Desiccation resistance; GC-MS; M and S molecular forms
6.  Behavioural divergence of sympatric Anopheles funestus populations in Burkina Faso 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:65.
In Burkina Faso, two chromosomal forms of the malaria vector Anopheles funestus, Folonzo and Kiribina, are distinguished by contrasting frequencies of shared polymorphic chromosomal inversions. Sympatric and synchronous populations of Folonzo and Kiribina mate assortatively, as indicated by a significant deficit of heterokaryotypes, and genetic associations among inversions on independently segregating chromosome arms. The present study aimed to assess, by intensive longitudinal sampling, whether sympatric Folonzo and Kiribina populations are characterized by behavioural differences in key malaria vectorial parameters.
The study was conducted in two adjacent villages near Ouagadougou, in the dry savanna of central Burkina Faso. Mosquito adult resting behaviour of both forms was compared based on parallel indoor/outdoor collections across six breeding seasons; 8,235 fully karyotyped samples of half-gravid females were analysed in total. Additionally, indoor/outdoor human biting behaviour, host selection, and Plasmodium falciparum sporozoite rate was assessed and compared between chromosomal forms.
The Kiribina form was numerically predominant in the area. However, the Folonzo form was significantly over-represented in indoor resting collections and showed stronger post-prandial endophily, while Kiribina predominated outdoors. Neither form was statistically distinguishable in human biting behaviour, and both were more likely to seek human blood meals indoors than outside. The human blood index and sporozoite rate were comparably high in both chromosomal forms in indoor collections (>89% and >8%, respectively).
Both Kiribina and Folonzo chromosomal forms are formidable malaria vectors in Burkina Faso. However, the significantly greater tendency for the Kiribina form to rest outdoors despite its pronounced anthropophily suggests that uniform exposure of the overall An. funestus population to indoor-based vector control tools cannot be expected; Kiribina is more likely to evade indoor interventions and escape unharmed outdoors, reducing the efficacy of malaria control. Accordingly, more efficient methods to detect Kiribina and Folonzo, and a more complete understanding of their distribution and behaviour in Africa are advocated.
PMCID: PMC3937823  PMID: 24559382
Anopheles funestus; Anthropophily; Behavioural divergence; Chromosomal forms; Exophily; Folonzo; Kiribina; Malaria vector; West Africa
7.  Mario Coluzzi (1938–2012) 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:10.
PMCID: PMC3914365  PMID: 24498979
8.  The Evolution of the Anopheles 16 Genomes Project 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2013;3(7):1191-1194.
We report the imminent completion of a set of reference genome assemblies for 16 species of Anopheles mosquitoes. In addition to providing a generally useful resource for comparative genomic analyses, these genome sequences will greatly facilitate exploration of the capacity exhibited by some Anopheline mosquito species to serve as vectors for malaria parasites. A community analysis project will commence soon to perform a thorough comparative genomic investigation of these newly sequenced genomes. Completion of this project via the use of short next-generation sequence reads required innovation in both the bioinformatic and laboratory realms, and the resulting knowledge gained could prove useful for genome sequencing projects targeting other unconventional genomes.
PMCID: PMC3704246  PMID: 23708298
comparative; assembly; vector; malaria; collaboration
9.  Physiological correlates of ecological divergence along an urbanization gradient: differential tolerance to ammonia among molecular forms of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae 
BMC Ecology  2013;13:1.
Limitations in the ability of organisms to tolerate environmental stressors affect their fundamental ecological niche and constrain their distribution to specific habitats. Evolution of tolerance, therefore, can engender ecological niche dynamics. Forest populations of the afro-tropical malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae have been shown to adapt to historically unsuitable larval habitats polluted with decaying organic matter that are found in densely populated urban agglomerates of Cameroon. This process has resulted in niche expansion from rural to urban environments that is associated with cryptic speciation and ecological divergence of two evolutionarily significant units within this taxon, the molecular forms M and S, among which reproductive isolation is significant but still incomplete. Habitat segregation between the two forms results in a mosaic distribution of clinally parapatric patches, with the M form predominating in the centre of urban agglomerates and the S form in the surrounding rural localities. We hypothesized that development of tolerance to nitrogenous pollutants derived from the decomposition of organic matter, among which ammonia is the most toxic to aquatic organisms, may affect this pattern of distribution and process of niche expansion by the M form.
Acute toxicity bioassays indicated that populations of the two molecular forms occurring at the extremes of an urbanization gradient in Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, differed in their response to ammonia. The regression lines best describing the dose-mortality profile differed in the scale of the explanatory variable (ammonia concentration log-transformed for the S form and linear for the M form), and in slope (steeper for the S form and shallower for the M form). These features reflected differences in the frequency distribution of individual tolerance thresholds in the two populations as assessed by probit analysis, with the M form exhibiting a greater mean and variance compared to the S form.
In agreement with expectations based on the pattern of habitat partitioning and exposure to ammonia in larval habitats in Yaounde, the M form showed greater tolerance to ammonia compared to the S form. This trait may be part of the physiological machinery allowing forest populations of the M form to colonize polluted larval habitats, which is at the heart of its niche expansion in densely populated human settlements in Cameroon.
PMCID: PMC3548750  PMID: 23294940
Local adaptation; Fundamental ecological niche; Environmental stressor; Evolution of tolerance; Urbanization; Malaria; Mosquito
10.  Patterns of Genomic Differentiation between Ecologically Differentiated M and S Forms of Anopheles gambiae in West and Central Africa 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2012;4(12):1202-1212.
Anopheles gambiae M and S are thought to be undergoing ecological speciation by adapting to different larval habitats. Toward an improved understanding of the genetic determinants and evolutionary processes shaping their divergence, we used a 400,000 single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) genotyping array to characterize patterns of genomic differentiation between four geographically paired M and S population samples from West and Central Africa. In keeping with recent studies based on more limited genomic or geographic sampling, divergence was not confined to a few isolated “speciation islands.” Divergence was both widespread across the genome and heterogeneous. Moreover, we find consistent patterns of genomic divergence across sampling sites and mutually exclusive clustering of M and S populations using genetic distances based on all 400,000 SNPs, implying that M and S are evolving collectively across the study area. Nevertheless, the clustering of local M and S populations using genetic distances based on SNPs from genomic regions of low differentiation is consistent with recent gene flow and introgression. To account for these data and reconcile apparent paradoxes in reported patterns of M–S genomic divergence and hybridization, we propose that extrinsic ecologically based postmating barriers vary in strength as environmental conditions fluctuate or change.
PMCID: PMC3542583  PMID: 23132896
divergent selection; genome scan; introgression; population genomics; SNP genotyping; speciation islands
11.  Anthropogenic Habitat Disturbance and Ecological Divergence between Incipient Species of the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles gambiae 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39453.
Anthropogenic habitat disturbance is a prime cause in the current trend of the Earth’s reduction in biodiversity. Here we show that the human footprint on the Central African rainforest, which is resulting in deforestation and growth of densely populated urban agglomerates, is associated to ecological divergence and cryptic speciation leading to adaptive radiation within the major malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In southern Cameroon, the frequency of two molecular forms–M and S–among which reproductive isolation is strong but still incomplete, was correlated to an index of urbanisation extracted from remotely sensed data, expressed as the proportion of built-up surface in each sampling unit. The two forms markedly segregated along an urbanisation gradient forming a bimodal cline of ∼6-km width: the S form was exclusive to the rural habitat, whereas only the M form was present in the core of densely urbanised settings, co-occurring at times in the same polluted larval habitats of the southern house mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus–a species association that was not historically recorded before.
Our results indicate that when humans create novel habitats and ecological heterogeneities, they can provide evolutionary opportunities for rapid adaptive niche shifts associated with lineage divergence, whose consequences upon malaria transmission might be significant.
PMCID: PMC3382172  PMID: 22745756
12.  Adaptation to Aridity in the Malaria Mosquito Anopheles gambiae: Chromosomal Inversion Polymorphism and Body Size Influence Resistance to Desiccation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e34841.
Chromosomal inversions are thought to confer a selective advantage in alternative habitats by protecting co-adapted alleles from recombination. The frequencies of two inversions (2La and 2Rb) of the afro-tropical malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae change gradually along geographical clines, increasing in frequency with degree of aridity. Such clines can result from gene flow and local selection acting upon alternative karyotypes along the cline, suggesting that these inversions may be associated with tolerance to xeric conditions. Since water loss represents a major challenge in xeric habitats, it can be supposed that genes inside these inversions are involved in water homeostasis. To test this hypothesis, we compared the desiccation resistance of alternative karyotypes from a colonised 2Rb/2La polymorphic population of A. gambiae from Cameroon. The strain included only the molecular form S, one of the genetic units marking incipient speciation in this taxon. Day-old mosquitoes of both sexes were assayed individually for time to death in a dry environment and the karyotype of each was determined post-mortem using molecular diagnostic assays for each inversion. In agreement with expectations based on their eco-geographical distribution, we found that 2La homokaryotypes survived significantly longer (1.3 hours) than the other karyotypes. However, there was weak support for the effect of 2Rb on desiccation resistance. Larger mosquitoes survived longer than smaller ones. Median survival of females was greater than males, but the effect of sex on desiccation resistance was weakly supported, indicating that differential survival was correlated to differences between sexes in average size. We found weak evidence for a heterotic effect of 2La karyotype on size in females. These results support the notion that genes located inside the 2La inversion are involved in water balance, contributing towards local adaptation of A. gambiae to xeric habitats, beyond the adaptive value conferred by a larger body size.
PMCID: PMC3325948  PMID: 22514674
13.  Spatially Explicit Analyses of Anopheline Mosquitoes Indoor Resting Density: Implications for Malaria Control 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31843.
The question of sampling and spatial aggregation of malaria vectors is central to vector control efforts and estimates of transmission. Spatial patterns of anopheline populations are complex because mosquitoes' habitats and behaviors are strongly heterogeneous. Analyses of spatially referenced counts provide a powerful approach to delineate complex distribution patterns, and contributions of these methods in the study and control of malaria vectors must be carefully evaluated.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We used correlograms, directional variograms, Local Indicators of Spatial Association (LISA) and the Spatial Analysis by Distance IndicEs (SADIE) to examine spatial patterns of Indoor Resting Densities (IRD) in two dominant malaria vectors sampled with a 5×5 km grid over a 2500 km2 area in the forest domain of Cameroon. SADIE analyses revealed that the distribution of Anopheles gambiae was different from regular or random, whereas there was no evidence of spatial pattern in Anopheles funestus (Ia = 1.644, Pa<0.05 and Ia = 1.464, Pa>0.05, respectively). Correlograms and variograms showed significant spatial autocorrelations at small distance lags, and indicated the presence of large clusters of similar values of abundance in An. gambiae while An. funestus was characterized by smaller clusters. The examination of spatial patterns at a finer spatial scale with SADIE and LISA identified several patches of higher than average IRD (hot spots) and clusters of lower than average IRD (cold spots) for the two species. Significant changes occurred in the overall spatial pattern, spatial trends and clusters when IRDs were aggregated at the house level rather than the locality level. All spatial analyses unveiled scale-dependent patterns that could not be identified by traditional aggregation indices.
Our study illustrates the importance of spatial analyses in unraveling the complex spatial patterns of malaria vectors, and highlights the potential contributions of these methods in malaria control.
PMCID: PMC3279417  PMID: 22348131
14.  No evidence for biased co-transmission of speciation islands in Anopheles gambiae 
Genome-scale scans have revealed highly heterogeneous levels of divergence between closely related taxa in many systems. Generally, a small number of regions show high differentiation, with the rest of the genome showing no or only low levels of divergence. These patterns have been interpreted as evidence for ongoing speciation-with-gene-flow, with introgression homogenizing the whole genome except loci involved in reproductive isolation. However, as the number of selected loci increases, the probability of introgression at unselected loci decreases unless there is a transmission ratio distortion causing an over-representation of specific combinations of alleles. Here we examine the transmission of three ‘speciation islands’ that contain fixed differences between the M and S forms of the mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. We made reciprocal crosses between M and S parents and genotyped over 2000 F2 individuals, developing a hierarchical likelihood model to identify specific genotypes that are under- or over-represented among the recombinant offspring. Though our overall results did not match the expected number of F2 genotypes, we found no biased co-transmission among M or S alleles in the three islands. Our likelihood model did identify transmission ratio distortion at two of the three islands, but this distortion was small (approx. 3%) and in opposite directions for the two islands. We discuss how our results impinge on hypotheses of current gene flow between M and S and ongoing speciation-with-gene-flow in this system.
PMCID: PMC3233708  PMID: 22201167
Anopheles gambiae; speciation; centromeric drive
15.  A behavioral mechanism underlying ecological divergence in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae 
Behavioral Ecology  2010;21(5):1087-1092.
Disruptive selection mediated by predation on aquatic immature stages has been proposed as a major force driving ecological divergence and fostering speciation between the M and S molecular forms of the African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. In the dry savannahs of West Africa where both molecular forms co-occur, the S form thrives in temporary pools filled with rainwater, whereas the M form preferentially breeds in permanent freshwater habitats where predator pressure is higher. Here, we explored the proximal mechanisms by which predation may contribute to habitat segregation between molecular forms using progeny of female mosquitoes captured in Burkina Faso. We show that the S form suffers higher predation rates than the M form when simultaneously exposed to the widespread predator, Anisops jaczewskii in an experimental arena. Furthermore, behavioral plasticity induced by exposure to the predator was observed in the M form, but not in the S form, and may partially explain its habitat use and ecological divergence from the S form. We discuss the role of adaptive phenotypic plasticity in allowing successful colonization of a new ecological niche by the M form and highlight further research areas that need to be addressed for a better understanding of the ultimate mechanisms underlying ecological speciation in this pest of major medical importance.
PMCID: PMC2920295  PMID: 22476108
adaptation; Anopheles gambiae; behavior; habitat divergence; mosquito; notonectidae; phenotypic plasticity, predation; speciation
16.  The “Far-West” of Anopheles gambiae Molecular Forms 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16415.
The main Afrotropical malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto, is undergoing a process of sympatric ecological diversification leading to at least two incipient species (the M and S molecular forms) showing heterogeneous levels of divergence across the genome. The physically unlinked centromeric regions on all three chromosomes of these closely related taxa contain fixed nucleotide differences which have been found in nearly complete linkage disequilibrium in geographic areas of no or low M-S hybridization. Assays diagnostic for SNP and structural differences between M and S forms in the three centromeric regions were applied in samples from the western extreme of their range of sympatry, the only area where high frequencies of putative M/S hybrids have been reported. The results reveal a level of admixture not observed in the rest of the range. In particular, we found: i) heterozygous genotypes at each marker, although at frequencies lower than expected under panmixia; ii) virtually all possible genotypic combinations between markers on different chromosomes, although genetic association was nevertheless detected; iii) discordant M and S genotypes at two X-linked markers near the centromere, suggestive of introgression and inter-locus recombination. These results could be indicative either of a secondary contact zone between M and S, or of the maintenance of ancestral polymorphisms. This issue and the perspectives opened by these results in the study of the M and S incipient speciation process are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3039643  PMID: 21347223
17.  Evolutionary Dynamics of the Ty3/Gypsy LTR Retrotransposons in the Genome of Anopheles gambiae 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16328.
Ty3/gypsy elements represent one of the most abundant and diverse LTR-retrotransposon (LTRr) groups in the Anopheles gambiae genome, but their evolutionary dynamics have not been explored in detail. Here, we conduct an in silico analysis of the distribution and abundance of the full complement of 1045 copies in the updated AgamP3 assembly. Chromosomal distribution of Ty3/gypsy elements is inversely related to arm length, with densities being greatest on the X, and greater on the short versus long arms of both autosomes. Taking into account the different heterochromatic and euchromatic compartments of the genome, our data suggest that the relative abundance of Ty3/gypsy LTRrs along each chromosome arm is determined mainly by the different proportions of heterochromatin, particularly pericentric heterochromatin, relative to total arm length. Additionally, the breakpoint regions of chromosomal inversion 2La appears to be a haven for LTRrs. These elements are underrepresented more than 7-fold in euchromatin, where 33% of the Ty3/gypsy copies are associated with genes. The euchromatin on chromosome 3R shows a faster turnover rate of Ty3/gypsy elements, characterized by a deficit of proviral sequences and the lowest average sequence divergence of any autosomal region analyzed in this study. This probably reflects a principal role of purifying selection against insertion for the preservation of longer conserved syntenyc blocks with adaptive importance located in 3R. Although some Ty3/gypsy LTRrs show evidence of recent activity, an important fraction are inactive remnants of relatively ancient insertions apparently subject to genetic drift. Consistent with these computational predictions, an analysis of the occupancy rate of putatively older insertions in natural populations suggested that the degenerate copies have been fixed across the species range in this mosquito, and also are shared with the sibling species Anopheles arabiensis.
PMCID: PMC3026039  PMID: 21283637
18.  Breakpoint structure of the Anopheles gambiae 2Rb chromosomal inversion 
Malaria Journal  2010;9:293.
Alternative arrangements of chromosome 2 inversions in Anopheles gambiae are important sources of population structure, and are associated with adaptation to environmental heterogeneity. The forces responsible for their origin and maintenance are incompletely understood. Molecular characterization of inversion breakpoints provides insight into how they arose, and provides the basis for development of molecular karyotyping methods useful in future studies.
Sequence comparison of regions near the cytological breakpoints of 2Rb allowed the molecular delineation of breakpoint boundaries. Comparisons were made between the standard 2R+b arrangement in the An. gambiae PEST reference genome and the inverted 2Rb arrangements in the An. gambiae M and S genome assemblies. Sequence differences between alternative 2Rb arrangements were exploited in the design of a PCR diagnostic assay, which was evaluated against the known chromosomal banding pattern of laboratory colonies and field-collected samples from Mali and Cameroon.
The breakpoints of the 7.55 Mb 2Rb inversion are flanked by extensive runs of the same short (72 bp) tandemly organized sequence, which was likely responsible for chromosomal breakage and rearrangement. Application of the molecular diagnostic assay suggested that 2Rb has a single common origin in An. gambiae and its sibling species, Anopheles arabiensis, and also that the standard arrangement (2R+b) may have arisen twice through breakpoint reuse. The molecular diagnostic was reliable when applied to laboratory colonies, but its accuracy was lower in natural populations.
The complex repetitive sequence flanking the 2Rb breakpoint region may be prone to structural and sequence-level instability. The 2Rb molecular diagnostic has immediate application in studies based on laboratory colonies, but its usefulness in natural populations awaits development of complementary molecular tools.
PMCID: PMC2988034  PMID: 20974007
19.  Phylogenetic analysis and temporal diversification of mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) based on nuclear genes and morphology 
Phylogenetic analyses provide a framework for examining the evolution of morphological and molecular diversity, interpreting patterns in biogeography, and achieving a stable classification. The generic and suprageneric relationships within mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) are poorly resolved, making these subjects difficult to address.
We carried out maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood, including Bayesian, analyses on a data set consisting of six nuclear genes and 80 morphological characters to assess their ability to resolve relationships among 25 genera. We also estimated divergence times based on sequence data and fossil calibration points, using Bayesian relaxed clock methods. Strong support was recovered for the basal position and monophyly of the subfamily Anophelinae and the tribes Aedini and Sabethini of subfamily Culicinae. Divergence times for major culicid lineages date to the early Cretaceous.
Deeper relationships within the family remain poorly resolved, suggesting the need for additional taxonomic sampling. Our results support the notion of rapid radiations early in the diversification of mosquitoes.
PMCID: PMC2805638  PMID: 20028549
20.  Comparative Analysis of the Global Transcriptome of Anopheles funestus from Mali, West Africa 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(11):e7976.
Anopheles funestus is a principal vector of malaria across much of tropical Africa and is considered one of the most efficient of its kind, yet studies of this species have lagged behind those of its broadly sympatric congener, An. gambiae. In aid of future genomic sequencing of An. funestus, we explored the whole body transcriptome, derived from mixed stage progeny of wild-caught females from Mali, West Africa.
Principal Findings
Here we report the functional annotation and comparative genomics of 2,005 expressed sequence tags (ESTs) from An. funestus, which were assembled with a previous EST set from adult female salivary glands from the same mosquito. The assembled ESTs provided for a nonredundant catalog of 1,035 transcripts excluding mitochondrial sequences.
Comparison of the An. funestus and An. gambiae transcriptomes using computational and macroarray approaches revealed a high degree of sequence identity despite an estimated 20–80 MY divergence time between lineages. A phylogenetically broader comparative genomic analysis indicated that the most rapidly evolving proteins– those involved in immunity, hematophagy, formation of extracellular structures, and hypothetical conserved proteins– are those that probably play important roles in how mosquitoes adapt to their nutritional and external environments, and therefore could be of greatest interest in disease control.
PMCID: PMC2775680  PMID: 19936243
21.  Seasonal distribution of Anopheles funestus chromosomal forms from Burkina Faso 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:239.
Previous studies of Anopheles funestus chromosomal inversion polymorphisms in Burkina Faso showed large departures from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and linkage disequilibrium among inversions located on different chromosomes, implying the existence of two taxonomic units ("chromosomal forms") with limited genetic flow. One chromosomal form, named Folonzo, is highly polymorphic for alternative rearrangements of 3Ra, 3Rb, 2Ra, and 3La; the other, Kiribina, is predominantly characterized by the standard arrangement of these inversions. To investigate the temporal distribution of these chromosomal forms, further collections were carried out in two villages near Ouagadougou where they are found in sympatry.
Chromosomal karyotypes were determined from indoor-resting, half-gravid females sampled within and across six breeding seasons, from December 1998 to April 2007.
As expected, the pattern of chromosomal polymorphism in An. funestus was consistent with assortatively mating Folonzo and Kiribina forms. When samples were assigned to each chromosomal form, their relative abundance varied within successive breeding seasons in a repeating pattern of temporal variability. Relative abundance of the Folonzo form was correlated with climatic variables related to temperature and rainfall.
The relative abundance of Folonzo and Kiribina forms of An. funestus likely reflects different larval ecologies that are linked to varying climatic conditions. Further analysis of the bionomics of these vectors is recommended in light of its relevance to vector control.
PMCID: PMC2775746  PMID: 19857258
22.  Inversion 2La is associated with enhanced desiccation resistance in Anopheles gambiae 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:215.
Anopheles gambiae, the principal vector of malignant malaria in Africa, occupies a wide range of habitats. Environmental flexibility may be conferred by a number of chromosomal inversions non-randomly associated with aridity, including 2La. The purpose of this study was to determine the physiological mechanisms associated with the 2La inversion that may result in the preferential survival of its carriers in hygrically-stressful environments.
Two homokaryotypic populations of A. gambiae (inverted 2La and standard 2L+a) were created from a parental laboratory colony polymorphic for 2La and standard for all other known inversions. Desiccation resistance, water, energy and dry mass of adult females of both populations were compared at several ages and following acclimation to a more arid environment.
Females carrying 2La were significantly more resistant to desiccation than 2L+a females at emergence and four days post-emergence, for different reasons. Teneral 2La females had lower rates of water loss than their 2L+a counterparts, while at four days, 2La females had higher initial water content. No differences in desiccation resistance were found at eight days, with or without acclimation. However, acclimation resulted in both populations significantly reducing their rates of water loss and increasing their desiccation resistance. Acclimation had contrasting effects on the body characteristics of the two populations: 2La females boosted their glycogen stores and decreased lipids, whereas 2La females did the contrary.
Variation in rates of water loss and response to acclimation are associated with alternative arrangements of the 2La inversion. Understanding the mechanisms underlying these traits will help explain how inversion polymorphisms permit exploitation of a heterogeneous environment by this disease vector.
PMCID: PMC2754996  PMID: 19772577
23.  2La chromosomal inversion enhances thermal tolerance of Anopheles gambiae larvae 
Malaria Journal  2009;8:147.
The mosquito Anopheles gambiae is broadly distributed throughout sub-Saharan Africa and this contributes to making it the most efficient vector of malaria on the continent. The pervasiveness of this species is hypothesized to originate in local adaptations facilitated by inversion polymorphisms. One inversion, named 2La, is strongly associated with aridity clines in West and Central Africa: while 2La is fixed in arid savannas, the 2L+a arrangement is predominantly found in the rainforest. Ability to survive high temperature exposure is an essential component of aridity tolerance, particularly in immature stages that are restricted to shallow puddles. Toward deciphering the role of the 2La inversion in local adaptation, the present investigation focused on variation in larval and pupal thermo-tolerance in two populations dissimilar solely in 2La arrangement.
A laboratory colony of A. gambiae that is polymorphic for 2La but standard for all other known inversions was used to create 2 homokaryotypic populations (2L+a and 2La). The survival of 4th instar larvae and pupae from both populations was then tested following exposure to thermal stress with and without prior heat hardening.
Larvae responded identically to a 40°C heat stress, with about 50% of larvae dying after 1.5–2 h and few larvae surviving a 3 h stress. When heat hardened prior to the thermal stress, thermo-tolerance of both larval populations increased, with 2La 24 h survival significantly exceeding that of 2L+a. Pupae were generally more thermo-tolerant than larvae, although 2La pupae were less so than 2L+a. Heat hardening had no positive effect on pupal thermo-tolerance.
The increased thermo-tolerance observed in 2La larvae following heat hardening suggests higher responsiveness (i.e., thermal sensitivity) of the inverted karyotype. By responding more drastically to the heat shock, 2La larvae are better equipped to resist the potentially lethal temperatures that occur in arid habitats. The lower survival of 2La pupae compared with 2L+a may reflect the cost of this sensitivity, whereby the thermal resistance mechanisms prevent successful completion of metamorphosis. The costs and benefits of thermal resistance are discussed in light of the climates characterizing either end of the 2La frequency cline.
PMCID: PMC2712477  PMID: 19573238
24.  Ecological niche partitioning between Anopheles gambiae molecular forms in Cameroon: the ecological side of speciation 
BMC Ecology  2009;9:17.
Speciation among members of the Anopheles gambiae complex is thought to be promoted by disruptive selection and ecological divergence acting on sets of adaptation genes protected from recombination by polymorphic paracentric chromosomal inversions. However, shared chromosomal polymorphisms between the M and S molecular forms of An. gambiae and insufficient information about their relationship with ecological divergence challenge this view. We used Geographic Information Systems, Ecological Niche Factor Analysis, and Bayesian multilocus genetic clustering to explore the nature and extent of ecological and chromosomal differentiation of M and S across all the biogeographic domains of Cameroon in Central Africa, in order to understand the role of chromosomal arrangements in ecological specialisation within and among molecular forms.
Species distribution modelling with presence-only data revealed differences in the ecological niche of both molecular forms and the sibling species, An. arabiensis. The fundamental environmental envelope of the two molecular forms, however, overlapped to a large extent in the rainforest, where they occurred in sympatry. The S form had the greatest niche breadth of all three taxa, whereas An. arabiensis and the M form had the smallest niche overlap. Correspondence analysis of M and S karyotypes confirmed that molecular forms shared similar combinations of chromosomal inversion arrangements in response to the eco-climatic gradient defining the main biogeographic domains occurring across Cameroon. Savanna karyotypes of M and S, however, segregated along the smaller-scale environmental gradient defined by the second ordination axis. Population structure analysis identified three chromosomal clusters, each containing a mixture of M and S specimens. In both M and S, alternative karyotypes were segregating in contrasted environments, in agreement with a strong ecological adaptive value of chromosomal inversions.
Our data suggest that inversions on the second chromosome of An. gambiae are not causal to the evolution of reproductive isolation between the M and S forms. Rather, they are involved in ecological specialization to a similar extent in both genetic backgrounds, and most probably predated lineage splitting between molecular forms. However, because chromosome-2 inversions promote ecological divergence, resulting in spatial and/or temporal isolation between ecotypes, they might favour mutations in other ecologically significant genes to accumulate in unlinked chromosomal regions. When such mutations occur in portions of the genome where recombination is suppressed, such as the pericentromeric regions known as speciation islands in An. gambiae, they would contribute further to the development of reproductive isolation.
PMCID: PMC2698860  PMID: 19460146
25.  Living at the edge: biogeographic patterns of habitat segregation conform to speciation by niche expansion in Anopheles gambiae 
BMC Ecology  2009;9:16.
Ongoing lineage splitting within the African malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae is compatible with ecological speciation, the evolution of reproductive isolation by divergent natural selection acting on two populations exploiting alternative resources. Divergence between two molecular forms (M and S) identified by fixed differences in rDNA, and characterized by marked, although incomplete, reproductive isolation is occurring in West and Central Africa. To elucidate the role that ecology and geography play in speciation, we carried out a countrywide analysis of An. gambiae M and S habitat requirements, and that of their chromosomal variants, across Burkina Faso.
Maps of relative abundance by geostatistical interpolators produced a distinct pattern of distribution: the M-form dominated in the northernmost arid zones, the S-form in the more humid southern regions. Maps of habitat suitability, quantified by Ecological Niche Factor Analysis based on 15 eco-geographical variables revealed less contrast among forms. M was peculiar as it occurred proportionally more in habitat of marginal quality. Measures of ecological niche breadth and overlap confirmed the mismatch between the fundamental and realized patterns of habitat occupation: forms segregated more than expected from the extent of divergence of their environmental envelope – a signature of niche expansion. Classification of chromosomal arm 2R karyotypes by multilocus genetic clustering identified two clusters loosely corresponding to molecular forms, with 'mismatches' representing admixed individuals due to shared ancestral polymorphism and/or residual hybridization. In multivariate ordination space, these karyotypes plotted in habitat of more marginal quality compared to non-admixed, 'typical', karyotypes. The distribution of 'typical' karyotypes along the main eco-climatic gradient followed a consistent pattern within and between forms, indicating an adaptive role of inversions at this geographical scale.
Ecological segregation between M and S is consistent with niche expansion into marginal habitats by chromosomal inversion variants during early lineage divergence; presumably, this process is promoted by inter-karyotype competition in the higher-quality core habitat. We propose that the appearance of favourable allelic combinations in other regions of suppressed recombination (e.g. pericentromeric portions defining speciation islands in An. gambiae) fosters development of reproductive isolation to protect linkage between separate chromosomal regions.
PMCID: PMC2702294  PMID: 19460144

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