Anopheles funestus is a primary vector of malaria in Africa south of the Sahara. We assessed its rangewide population genetic structure based on samples from 11 countries, using 10 physically mapped microsatellite loci, two per autosome arm and the X (N = 548), and 834 bp of the mitochondrial ND5 gene (N = 470). On the basis of microsatellite allele frequencies, we found three subdivisions: eastern (coastal Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar), western (Burkina Faso, Mali, Nigeria and western Kenya), and central (Gabon, coastal Angola). A. funestus from the southwest of Uganda had affinities to all three subdivisions. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) corroborated this structure, although mtDNA gene trees showed less resolution. The eastern subdivision had significantly lower diversity, similar to the pattern found in the codistributed malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. This suggests that both species have responded to common geographic and/or climatic constraints. The western division showed signatures of population expansion encompassing Kenya west of the Rift Valley through Burkina Faso and Mali. This pattern also bears similarity to A. gambiae, and may reflect a common response to expanding human populations following the development of agriculture. Due to the presumed recent population expansion, the correlation between genetic and geographic distance was weak. Mitochondrial DNA revealed further cryptic subdivision in A. funestus, not detected in the nuclear genome. Mozambique and Madagascar samples contained two mtDNA lineages, designated clade I and clade II, that were separated by two fixed differences and an average of 2% divergence, which implies that they have evolved independently for ∼1 million years. Clade I was found in all 11 locations, whereas clade II was sampled only on Madagascar and Mozambique. We suggest that the latter clade may represent mtDNA capture by A. funestus, resulting from historical gene flow either among previously isolated and divergent populations or with a related species. © 2005 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
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