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Open Access Research article

Estimation of divergence time between two sibling species of the Anopheles (Kerteszia) cruzii complex using a multilocus approach

Luísa DP Rona1, Carlos J Carvalho-Pinto2, Camila J Mazzoni34 and Alexandre A Peixoto1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratório de Biologia Molecular de Insetos, Instituto Oswaldo Cruz, FIOCRUZ, Av. Brasil 4365, Rio de Janeiro 21045-900, RJ, Brazil

2 Departamento de Microbiologia e Parasitologia, CCB, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis 88040-970, SC, Brazil

3 Environmental Research Institute, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

4 Current address: Evolutionary Genetics Group, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Alfred-Kowalke-Str, 17, D-10315 Berlin, Germany

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2010, 10:91  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-10-91

Published: 31 March 2010



Anopheles cruzii is the primary human Plasmodium vector in southern and southeastern Brazil. The distribution of this mosquito follows the coast of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest. Previous studies indicated that An. cruzii is a complex of cryptic species.


A multilocus approach using six loci, three circadian clock genes and three encoding ribosomal proteins, was implemented to investigate in more detail the genetic differentiation between the An. cruzii populations from Santa Catarina (southern Brazil) and Bahia States (northeastern Brazil) that represent two sibling species. The analysis revealed very high FST values and fixed differences between the two An. cruzii sibling species in all loci, irrespective of their function. An Isolation with Migration model was fit to the data using the IM program. The results reveal no migration in either direction and allowed a rough estimate of the divergence time between the two sibling species.


Population genetics analysis of An. cruzii samples from two Brazilian localities using a multilocus approach confirmed that they represent two different sibling species in this complex. The results suggest that the two species have not exchanged migrants since their separation and that they possibly diverged between 1.1 and 3.6 million years ago, a period of intense climatic changes.