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Open Access Research article

Adaptation of a South American malaria vector to laboratory colonization suggests faster-male evolution for mating ability

José BP Lima12, Denise Valle12 and Alexandre A Peixoto3*

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Entomologia, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Av. Brasil 4365, Manguinhos CEP 21045-900, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

2 Laboratório de Entomologia, Instituto de Biologia do Exército, Rua Francisco Manuel 102, Benfica CEP 20911-270, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

3 Departamento de Bioquímica e Biologia Molecular, Fundação Oswaldo Cruz, Av. Brasil 4365, Manguinhos CEP 21045-900, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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BMC Evolutionary Biology 2004, 4:12  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-4-12

Published: 6 May 2004

Abstract

Background

Anopheles (Nyssorhynchus) albitarsis (Diptera: Culicidae) is one of the very few South American mosquito vectors of malaria successfully colonized in the laboratory. These vectors are very hard to breed because they rarely mate in artificial conditions. A few years ago a free-mating laboratory colony of An. albitarsis sensu stricto was established after about 30 generations of artificial-mating. To begin to understand the process of adaptation of these malaria vectors to the laboratory we have compared the insemination rates of colony mosquitoes to those from the original population in both artificial and free-mating crosses. We also carried out crossing experiments between the two types of mosquitoes for a preliminary analysis of the genetic basis of such adaptation.

Results

We show that, compared to the original population, colony males but not females have increased their insemination rates in the laboratory in both types of mating, suggesting that faster-male evolution of mating ability might have occurred during the colonization process.

Conclusions

The results are consistent with the faster-male theory, which predicts that sexual selection will cause faster rates of evolution of genes expressed in males. The data also suggests that attempts to colonize other South American malaria mosquitoes will be more successful if special attention is given to the male ability to mate in a confined space.