Morphological differentiation may mediate mate-choice between incipient species of Anopheles gambiae s.s.

Michelle R. Sanford, Berna Demirci, Clare D. Marsden, Yoosook Lee, Anthony J. Cornel, Gregory C Lanzaro

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21 Scopus citations


The M and S molecular forms of Anopheles gambiae s.s. have been considered incipient species for more than ten years, yet the mechanism underlying assortative mating of these incipient species has remained elusive. The discovery of the importance of harmonic convergence of wing beat frequency in mosquito mating and its relation to wing size have laid the foundation for exploring phenotypic divergence in wing size of wild populations of the two forms. In this study, wings from field collected mosquitoes were measured for wing length and wing width from two parts of the sympatric distribution, which differ with respect to the strength of assortative mating. In Mali, where assortative mating is strong, as evidenced by low rates of hybridization, mean wing lengths and wing widths were significantly larger than those from Guinea-Bissau. In addition, mean wing widths in Mali were significantly different between molecular forms. In Guinea-Bissau, assortative mating appears comparatively reduced and wing lengths and widths did not differ significantly between molecular forms. The data presented in this study support the hypothesis that wing beat frequency may mediate assortative mating in the incipient species of A. gambiae and represent the first documentation of a morphological difference between the M and S molecular forms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere27920
JournalPLoS One
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 21 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Medicine(all)


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