Transcontinental dispersal of Anopheles gambiae occurred from West African origin via serial founder events

H. Schmidt, Y. Lee, T. C. Collier, M. J. Hanemaaijer, O. D. Kirstein, A. Ouledi, M. Muleba, D. E. Norris, M. Slatkin, A. J. Cornel and G. C. Lanzaro,  Communications Biology,  2. 2019.

The mosquito Anopheles gambiae s.s. is distributed across most of sub-Saharan Africa and is of major scientific and public health interest for being an African malaria vector. Here we present population genomic analyses of 111 specimens sampled from west to east Africa, including the first whole genome sequences from oceanic islands, the Comoros. Genetic distances between populations of A. gambiae are discordant with geographic distances but are consistent with a stepwise migration scenario in which the species increases its range from west to east Africa through consecutive founder events over the last similar to 200,000 years. Geological barriers like the Congo River basin and the East African rift seem to play an important role in shaping this process. Moreover, we find a high degree of genetic isolation of populations on the Comoros, confirming the potential of these islands as candidate sites for potential field trials of genetically engineered mosquitoes for malaria control.

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