This survey reports on the DNA identification and occurrence of Culex torrentium and Cx. pipiens s.s. in Belgium. These native disease-vector mosquito species are morphologically difficult to separate, and the biotypes of Cx. pipiens s.s. are morphologically indistinguishable. Culex torrentium and Cx. pipiens s.s. were identified using the COI and ACE2 loci. We recorded 1248 Cx. pipiens s.s. and 401 Cx. torrentium specimens from 24 locations in Belgium (collected between 2017 and 2019). Culex pipiens biotypes pipiens and molestus, and their hybrids, were differentiated using fragment-size analysis of the CQ11 locus (956 pipiens and 227 molestus biotype specimens, 29 hybrids). Hybrids were observed at 13 out of 16 sympatric sites. These results confirm that both species are widespread in Belgium, but while Cx. torrentium revealed many COI haplotypes, Cx. pipiens s.s. showed only one abundant haplotype. This latter observation may either reflect a recent population-wide demographic or range expansion, or a recent bottleneck, possibly linked to a Wolbachia infection. Finally, new evidence is provided for the asymmetric but limited introgression of the molestus biotype into the pipiens biotype.
- Culex pipiens biotypes pipiens
- disease vectors
- DNA-based identification
- cytochrome c oxidase I (COI)
- fragment-size analyses (ACE2