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Commensalism, adaptation and gene flow: mosquitoes of the Culex pipiens complex in different habitats

  • Christine Chevillon (a1), Roger Eritja (a2), Nicole Pasteur (a1) and Michel Raymond (a1) (a3)


Two ecotypes have been described for Culex pipiens mosquitoes of the temperate zone: a human commensal type and a feral type, but their degree of evolutionary differentiation and taxonomic status are still unclear. The commensal form is characterized by life-history traits probably adaptive to underground man-made environments. This situation has sometimes been considered as an example of recent speciation although the existence of intermediate forms indicates that the balance between gene flow and disruptive selection should first be assessed. The present study was concerned with (1) the determination of biological traits involved in adaptation to commensalism, and (2) the pattern of gene flow within and between ecotypes in a restricted area. It was found that (1) significant differences in biological traits exist between mosquitoes from different habitats, (2) characteristics of the commensal type are not universal in mosquitoes from underground man-made habitats, (3) allozyme markers do not clearly differentiate ecotypes and (4) insecticide resistance genes, which reveal recent migration, occur in each ecotype. These results are discussed in the context of possible speciation due to commensalism.

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