Genetic relatedness (kinship) among Anopheles gambiae Giles female mosquitoes was assessed using microsatellite loci in five locations across Africa and in nine samples taken between 1994 and 1999 in western Kenya. We assessed variation among samples in kinship as well as the effect of distance on kinship. Relatedness within populations was low, and differences among samples taken at various times from one locale and from different locales were minimal. Mosquitoes collected from the same compound were slightly more closely related than those collected from different compounds. Our results suggest that newly emerged female siblings move relatively short distances into a few nearby compounds for blood feeding, but that they lay eggs in a more distant location. Kinship decreased nonlinearly with increasing distance. The strongest relationship between kinship and distance was observed for mosquitoes collected 0–3 km apart (−0.014/km, P < 0.001). The effect of distance decreased with increasing distance between mosquitoes; at 7 km or more, the kinship/distance slope approached zero and the intercept became negative, suggesting that beyond this range kinship does not decline with distance. This distance may thus represent the upper limit of the diameter of the basic reproductive unit. Nevertheless, the effect of distance on kinship is weak, reflecting extensive dispersal. Because females mate within days after emergence from larval habitats, where the likelihood of mating with a sibling is presumably highest, we propose a slight inbreeding effect.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4