Digital Biome

Phylogenetic Complexity of Morphologically Identified Anopheles squamosus in Southern Zambia


Despite dramatic reductions in malaria cases in the catchment area of Macha Hospital, Choma District, Southern Province in Zambia, prevalence has remained near 1–2% by RDT for the past several years. To investigate residual malaria transmission in the area, this study focuses on the relative abundance, foraging behavior, and phylogenetic relationships of Anopheles squamosus specimens. In 2011, higher than expected rates of anthropophily were observed among “zoophilic” An. squamosus, a species that had sporadically been found to contain Plasmodium falciparum sporozoites. The importance of An. squamosus in the region was reaffirmed in 2016 when P. falciparum sporozoites were detected in numerous An. squamosus specimens. This study analyzed Centers for Disease Control (CDC) light trap collections of adult mosquitoes from two collection schemes: one performed as part of a reactive-test-and-treat program and the second performed along a geographical transect. Morphological identification, molecular verification of anopheline species, and blood meal source were determined on individual samples. Data from these collections supported earlier studies demonstrating An. squamosus to be primarily exophagic and zoophilic, allowing them to evade current control measures. The phylogenetic relationships generated from the specimens in this study illustrate the existence of well supported clade structure among An. squamosus specimens, which further emphasizes the importance of molecular identification of vectors. The primarily exophagic behavior of An. squamosus in these collections also highlights that indoor vector control strategies will not be sufficient for elimination of malaria in southern Zambia.

Year of Publication
Start Page
Date Published