• Cryptic species status of Anopheles (Diptera: Culicidae) mosquitoes in Canada using a multidisciplinary approach

      Thielman, Aynsley; Department of Biological Sciences (2012-04-04)
      Many species of Anopheles mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) are now recognized as species complexes whose members are often indistinguishable morphologically but identifiable based on ecological, genetic, or behavioural data. Because the members of species complexes often differ in their vector potential, accurate identification of vector species is essential for successful mosquito control. To investigate the cryptic species status of Anopheles mosquitoes in Canada, specimens were collected from across the country and examined using morphological, molecular, and ecological data. Six of the seven traditionally recognised species from Canada were collected from locations in British Columbia, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and throughout Ontario, including Anopheles barberi, An. earlei, An. freeborni, An. punctipennis, An. quadrimaculatus s.l., and An. walkeri. Variation in polymorphic traits within An. earlei, An. punctipennis, and An. quadrimaculatus s.l. were quantified and egg morphology examined using scanning electron microscopy. Morphological identification of adult and larval specimens suggested that two described cryptic species, An. perplexens and An. smaragdinus, were present in Canada. DNA sequence data were analysed for evidence of cryptic species using three molecular markers: COl, ITS2, and ITS!. Intraspecific COl variation was very low in most species «1 %), except for An. punctipennis with 2% sequence divergence between those from British Columbia (BC) and Ontario (ON), and An. walkeri with 7% sequence divergence between populations from Manitoulin Island (NO) and Long Point Provincial Park (LP). Similar patterns were also seen using ITS2 and ITS 1. Therefore, molecular data revealed the presence of two putative cryptic species within two species examined (i.e., An. walkeri and An. punctipennis), corresponding to collection location (i.e., NO vs. LP and BC vs. ON, respectively). Surprisingly, there was no molecular support for the presence of either An. perplexens or An. smaragdinus in Canada despite the morphological assessments. Ecological data from all collection sites were recorded and are available in an online database designed to manage all collection and identification data. Current bionomic information, including regional abundance, larval habitat, and species associations, was determined for each species. This multidisciplinary study of Anopheles mosquitoes is the first detailed investigation of these potential disease vectors in Canada and demonstrates the importance of an integrated approach to anopheline systematics that includes molecular data.