[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Chromosomal inversions have been considered to be potentially important barriers to gene flow in many groups of animals through their effect on recombination suppression in heterokaryotypic individuals. Inversions can also enhance local adaptation in different groups of organisms and may often represent species-specific differences among closely related taxa. We conducted a study to characterize the 2La inversion karyotypes of An. gambiae sensu stricto mosquitoes sampled from the Kilombero Valley (Tanzania) using a newly designed PCR assay. Results We frequently encountered a (687 bp) fragment which was only present in the Kilombero Valley populations. Laboratory crossing between An. gambiae s.s. from Njage (Tanzania) and Kisumu (Western Kenya) populations resulted in F1 offspring carrying the observed fragment. Karyotype analysis did not indicate differences in 2La region chromosome morphology between individuals carrying the PCR fragments, the 207 bp fragment, or the 687 bp fragement. Conclusion The observed insertion/deletion polymorphism within the region amplified by the 2La PCR diagnostic test may confound the interpretation of this assay and should be well considered in order to maintain an acceptable level of reliability in studies using this assay to describe the distribution and frequency of the 2La inversion among natural populations of An. gambiae s.s.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The principal vector of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, Anopheles gambiae is subdivided into two molecular forms M and S. Additionally, several chromosomal forms, characterized by the presence of various inversion polymorphisms, have been described. The molecular forms M and S each contain several chromosomal forms, including the Savanna, Mopti and Forest forms. The M and S molecular forms are now considered to be the reproductive units within A. gambiae and it has recently been argued that a low recombination rate in the centromeric region of the X chromosome has facilitated isolation between these forms. The status of the chromosomal forms remains unclear however. Therefore, we studied genetic differentiation between Savanna S, Forest S, Forest M and Mopti M populations using microsatellites. Genetic differentiation between Savanna S and Forest S populations is very low (F(ST) = 0.0053 +/- 0.0049), even across large distances. In comparison, the Mopti M and Forest M populations show a relatively high degree of genetic differentiation (F(ST) = 0.0406 +/- 0.0054) indicating that the M molecular form may not be a single entity, but could be subdivided into at least two distinct chromosomal forms. Previously it was proposed that inversions have played a role in the origin of species within the A. gambiae complex. We argue that a possible subdivision within the M molecular form could be understood through this process, with the acquisition of inversions leading to the expansion of the M molecular form into new habitat, dividing it into two distinct chromosomal forms.