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Accurate identification of Australian mosquitoes using protein profiling

  • Andrea L. Lawrence (a1) (a2) (a3), Jana Batovska (a4) (a5), Cameron E. Webb (a1) (a2), Stacey E. Lynch (a4), Mark J. Blacket (a4), Jan Šlapeta (a3), Philippe Parola (a6) and Maureen Laroche (a6)...


Australian mosquito species significantly impact human health through nuisance biting and the transmission of endemic and exotic pathogens. Surveillance programmes designed to provide an early warning of mosquito-borne disease risk require reliable identification of mosquitoes. This study aimed to investigate the viability of Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization–Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) as a rapid and inexpensive approach to the identification of Australian mosquitoes and was validated using a three-step taxonomic approach. A total of 300 mosquitoes representing 21 species were collected from south-eastern New South Wales and morphologically identified. The legs from the mosquitoes were removed and subjected to MALDI-TOF MS analysis. Fifty-eight mosquitoes were sequenced at the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (cox1) gene region and genetic relationships were analysed. We create the first MALDI-TOF MS spectra database of Australian mosquito species including 19 species. We clearly demonstrate the accuracy of MALDI-TOF MS for identification of Australian mosquitoes. It is especially useful for assessing gaps in the effectiveness of DNA barcoding by differentiating closely related taxa. Indeed, cox1 DNA barcoding was not able to differentiate members of the Culex pipiens group, Cx. quinquefasciatus and Cx. pipiens molestus, but these specimens were correctly identified using MALDI-TOF MS.


Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Maureen Laroche, E-mail:


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