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The subgenus Melanoconion of Culex (Diptera: Culicidae) in South America

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Carolina Torres Gutierrez
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Faculdade de Saúde Pública (FSP/CIR)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Maria Anice Mureb Sallum; Eunice Aparecida Bianchi Galati; Carlos José Einicker Lamas; Lincoln Suesdek Rocha; João Carlos Setubal
Advisor: Maria Anice Mureb Sallum

Introduction - Some of the species of Culex (Melanoconion) Theobald are recognized as vectors of arboviruses such as Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus complex and West Nile Virus. Melanoconion is considered taxonomically diverse and widely distributed in the Americas, with the exception of Chile and Canada. The species of this subgenus pose a real taxonomical challenge as the identification based on morphological traits focuses mainly on the male genitalia that require well-trained skills for dissection of the structures. The current classification of the subgenus recognizes 160 species divided in two major groups, Melanoconion Section and Spissipes Section. Each one of these sections are further divided into non-formal groupings proposed to include morphologically similar species, mainly based on male genitalia characters. Research objectives - To investigate phylogenetic relationships between species of the subgenus Melanoconion of Culex by testing the current classification by Sirivanakarn (1983). We intended to evaluate the monophyly of the two major sections of the subgenus and some of the non-formal groups included in each section. Methods - Our sample taxa included 106 specimens of Melanoconion (46 species), from which we used fragments of two single-copy nuclear genes (CAD, HB) and the mitochondrial gene COI. We raised phylogenetic hypotheses about the subgenus Melanoconion based on analyses that used statistical methods such as Maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference. Results and Discussion - We present the first molecular phylogeny of Melanoconion based on information provided by three genes. The obtained phylogenetic trees strongly support that both sections, Melanoconion and Spissipes, are monophyletic groups. Furthermore the Spissipes Section showed phylogenetic lineages consistent with morphological classification. Thus we strongly recommend the resurrection of subgenus Helcoporpa Dyar to include species until now considered as Spissipes Section, with the exception of Culex nicaroensis. As for the Melanoconion Section, several non-formal groupings corresponded to polyphyletic or paraphyletic groups, with only a few having monophyletic origins. This fact suggests that future taxonomic rearrangements should be consider for Melanoconion Section, as well as a wider sampling of species and molecular markers. Our results confirmed the use of COI gene as a complementary tool for taxonomical identifications. Additionally, the performance of nuclear genes, when analyzed together, was highly informative, showing resolution between the two sections and also for species level. As for tools to infer phylogeny, our data are in agreement with the use of multi loci approach, in order to propose a phylogenetic hypothesis. Our results contribute with new information that improves the classification of subgenus Melanoconion and provides useful data to help with the identification tasks. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 12/18089-5 - Molecular phylogeny of the subgenus Melanoconion of the genus Culex (Diptera: Culicidae)
Grantee:Carolina Torres Gutierrez
Support Opportunities: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate