Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Phylogenetic analysis and temporal diversification of mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) based on nuclear genes and morphology

Kyanne R Reidenbach1, Shelley Cook2, Matthew A Bertone3, Ralph E Harbach2, Brian M Wiegmann3 and Nora J Besansky1*

Author affiliations

1 Eck Institute for Global Health, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556, USA

2 Department of Entomology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK

3 Department of Entomology, Gardner Hall, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA

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Citation and License

BMC Evolutionary Biology 2009, 9:298  doi:10.1186/1471-2148-9-298

Published: 22 December 2009



Phylogenetic analyses provide a framework for examining the evolution of morphological and molecular diversity, interpreting patterns in biogeography, and achieving a stable classification. The generic and suprageneric relationships within mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) are poorly resolved, making these subjects difficult to address.


We carried out maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood, including Bayesian, analyses on a data set consisting of six nuclear genes and 80 morphological characters to assess their ability to resolve relationships among 25 genera. We also estimated divergence times based on sequence data and fossil calibration points, using Bayesian relaxed clock methods. Strong support was recovered for the basal position and monophyly of the subfamily Anophelinae and the tribes Aedini and Sabethini of subfamily Culicinae. Divergence times for major culicid lineages date to the early Cretaceous.


Deeper relationships within the family remain poorly resolved, suggesting the need for additional taxonomic sampling. Our results support the notion of rapid radiations early in the diversification of mosquitoes.