Routes of Introduction of Anopheles gambiae Into Remote Islands in the Indian Ocean

R. E. Ditter, M. Campos, M. W. Crepeau, J. Pinto, A. Toilibou, Y. Amina, Y. Lee, A. J. Cornel and G. C. Lanzaro,  ,  2023.

The malaria vector Anopheles gambiae s.s., is a primary malaria vector throughout sub-Saharan Africa including the islands of the Comoros archipelago (Anjouan, Grande Comore, Mayotte and Mohéli). These islands are located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel in eastern Africa. Previous studies have shown a relatively high degree of genetic isolation between island and mainland populations of A. gambiae, but the origin of the island populations remains unclear. Here, we analyzed phylogenetic relationships among island and mainland populations using complete mitochondrial genome sequences of individual A. gambiae specimens. We investigated the source population of A. gambiaefor each island, determined the number of introductions and estimated when they occurred, and explored evidence for contemporary gene flow between island and mainland populations. Phylogenetic analysis and haplotype networks were constructed from mitogenome sequences of 258 A. gambiae from the four islands. In addition, 112 individuals from seven countries across sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar were included to identify potential source populations. Our results suggest that introduction events of A. gambiae into the Comoros archipelago were rare and recent events and that there is no evidence of contemporary migration between the islands and mainland Africa. This study further supports the suitability of these oceanic islands as appropriate sites for conducting field trial releases of genetically engineered mosquitoes (GEMs).

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