DNA identification of species of the Anopheles maculipennis complex and first record of An. daciae in Belgium

N. Smitz, K. De Wolf, A. Gheysen, I. Deblauwe, A. Vanslembrouck, K. Meganck, J. De Witte, A. Schneider, I. Verle, W. Dekoninck, S. Gombeer, A. Vanderheyden, M. De Meyer, T. Backeljau, R. Müller, W. Van Bortel

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The present study aimed at identifying the members of the Anopheles maculipennis complex (Diptera: Culicidae) occurring in Belgium. Therefore, the second internal transcribed spacer of nuclear ribosomal DNA (ITS2) and the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) loci were sequenced in 175 and 111 specimens, respectively, collected between 2007 and 2019. In parallel, the suitability of two species-diagnostic PCR-RFLP assays was tested. The identified specimens included: An. maculipennis s.s. (N = 105), An. daciae (N = 62), An. atroparvus (N = 6) and An. messeae (N = 2). Each species was characterized by unique ITS2 haplotypes, whereas COI only supported the monophyly of An. atroparvus, a historical malaria vector in Belgium. Species identification results were further supported by unique PCR-RFLP banding patterns. We report for the first time An. daciae in Belgium, where it was found to co-occur with An. maculipennis s.s. The latter was the most prevalent in the collection studied (60%) and appears to have the widest distribution in Belgium. As in other studies, An. daciae and An. messeae appeared the most closely related species, up to the point that their species status remains debatable, while their ecological differences, including vector competences, need further study.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)442-450
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Anopheles maculipennis subgroup
  • cytochrome oxidase I (COI)
  • internal transcribed spacer 2 (ITS2)
  • malaria vector
  • occurrence
  • restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP)


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