Hybridization and population structure of the culex pipiens complex in the islands of macaronesia

Bruno Gomes, Joana Alves, Carla A. Sousa, Marta Santa-Ana, Inês Vieira, Teresa L. Silva, Antó nio P.G. Almeida, Martin J. Donnelly, João Pinto

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The Culex pipiens complex includes two widespread mosquito vector species, Cx. pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus. The distribution of these species varies in latitude, with the former being present in temperate regions and the latter in tropical and subtropical regions. However, their distribution range overlaps in certain areas and interspecific hybridization has been documented. Genetic introgression between these species may have epidemiological repercussions for West Nile virus (WNV) transmission. Bayesian clustering analysis based on multilocus genotypes of 12 microsatellites was used to determine levels of hybridization between these two species in Macaronesian islands, the only contact zone described in West Africa. The distribution of the two species reflects both the islands' biogeography and historical aspects of human colonization. Madeira Island displayed a homogenous population of Cx. pipiens, whereas Cape Verde showed a more intriguing scenario with extensive hybridization. In the islands of Brava and Santiago, only Cx. quinquefasciatus was found, while in Fogo and Maio high hybrid rates (̃40%) between the two species were detected. Within the admixed populations, second-generation hybrids (̃50%) were identified suggesting a lack of isolation mechanisms. The observed levels of hybridization may locally potentiate the transmission to humans of zoonotic arboviruses such as WNV.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1889-1902
Number of pages14
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2012


  • Culex pipiens
  • Culex quinquefasciatus
  • Hybridization
  • Macaronesian islands
  • West Nile virus


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