The origin of island populations of the African malaria mosquito, Anopheles coluzzii

M. Campos, M. Hanemaaijer, H. Gripkey, T. C. Collier, Y. S. Lee, A. J. Cornel, J. Pinto, D. Ayala, H. Rompao and G. C. Lanzaro,  Communications Biology,  4:9. 2021.

Anopheles coluzzii is a major malaria vector throughout its distribution in west-central Africa. Here we present a whole-genome study of 142 specimens from nine countries in continental Africa and three islands in the Gulf of Guinea. This sample set covers a large part of this species’ geographic range. Our population genomic analyses included a description of the structure of mainland populations, island populations, and connectivity between them. Three genetic clusters are identified among mainland populations and genetic distances (F-ST) fits an isolation-by-distance model. Genomic analyses are applied to estimate the demographic history and ancestry for each island. Taken together with the unique biogeography and history of human occupation for each island, they present a coherent explanation underlying levels of genetic isolation between mainland and island populations. We discuss the relationship of our findings to the suitability of Sao Tome and Principe islands as candidate sites for potential field trials of genetic-based malaria control strategies. Campos, Lanzaro and colleagues use whole-genome sequencing and population genomic analyses to infer connectivity between mainland and island mosquito populations in West Africa. The unique biogeographic history for each island population is reported, and the findings highlight potential candidate sites for genetic-based malaria control strategies.

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