Population structure analyses and demographic history of the malaria vector Anopheles albimanus from the Caribbean and the Pacific regions of Colombia

Lina A. Gutiérrez, Nelson J. Naranjo, Astrid V. Cienfuegos, Carlos E. Muskus, Shirley Luckhart, Jan E. Conn, Margarita M. Correa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle in an indexed scientific journalpeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Background. Anopheles albimanus is an important malaria vector in some areas throughout its distribution in the Caribbean and the Pacific regions of Colombia, covering three biogeographic zones of the neotropical region, Maracaibo, Magdalena and Chocó. Methods. This study was conducted to estimate intra-population genetic diversity, genetic differentiation and demographic history of An. albimanus populations because knowledge of vector population structure is a useful tool to guide malaria control programmes. Analyses were based on mtDNA COI gene sequences and four microsatellite loci of individuals collected in eight populations from the Caribbean and the Pacific regions of Colombia. Results. Two distinctive groups were consistently detected corresponding to COI haplotypes from each region. A star-shaped statistical parsimony network, significant and unimodal mismatch distribution, and significant negative neutrality tests together suggest a past demographic expansion or a selective sweep in An. albimanus from the Caribbean coast approximately 21,994 years ago during the late Pleistocene. Overall moderate to low genetic differentiation was observed between populations within each region. However, a significant level of differentiation among the populations closer to Buenaventura in the Pacific region was observed. The isolation by distance model best explained genetic differentiation among the Caribbean region localities: Los Achiotes, Santa Rosa de Lima and Moñitos, but it could not explain the genetic differentiation observed between Turbo (Magdalena providence), and the Pacific region localities (Nuquí, Buenaventura, Tumaco). The patterns of differentiation in the populations from the different biogeographic provinces could not be entirely attributed to isolation by distance. Conclusion. The data provide evidence for limited past gene flow between the Caribbean and the Pacific regions, as estimated by mtDNA sequences and current gene flow patterns among An. albimanus populations as measured by MS loci which may be mainly influenced by semi-permeable natural barriers in each biogeographical region that lead to the genetic differences and effective population sizes detected. The relatively high genetic differentiation in the port city of Buenaventura may be the result of specific ecological conditions, human migration and activities and/or differences in effective population sizes. This knowledge could serve to evaluate and coordinate vector control strategies in these regions of Colombia.

Original languageEnglish
Article number259
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are grateful to G. Bedoya, J. Vega, and W. Rojas from Grupo de Genética Molecular and A. Montoya and M. Moreno from Grupo de Genética y Mejoramiento Animal in Universidad de Antioquia, for their technical and methodological cooperation and to Dr. M. Moreno-Leirana (The Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health) for valuable microsatellite analysis advice. This study was supported by Instituto Colombiano para el Desarrollo de la Ciencia y la Tecnología - COLCIEN-CIAS, Grant number 1115-05-16879 to MCO and by the United States National Institutes of Health, Grant 2R01AI054139 to JEC. Additional support for non-overlapping, complementary work was provided by Comité para el Desarrollo de la Investigación, CODI, Universidad de Antioquia, Grant numbers 8700-039 and E-01233, to MCO. LAG received financial support for her doctoral training from Instituto Colombiano para el Desarrollo de la Ciencia y la Tecnología Francisco José de Caldas, COL-CIENCIAS.


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