Studies were conducted to examine the population genetic structure of Anopheles arabiensis (Patton) in Mwea Rice Irrigation Scheme and surrounding areas in Central Kenya, under different agricultural systems. This study was motivated by observed differences in malaria transmission indices of An. arabiensis within the scheme compared with adjacent nonirrigated areas. Agricultural practices can modify local microclimate and influence the number and diversity of larval habitats and in so doing may occasion subpopulation differentiation. Thirty samples from each of the three study sites were genotyped at eight microsatellite loci. Seven microsatellite loci showed high polymorphism but revealed no genetic differentiation (FST = 0.006, P = 0.312) and high gene flow (Nm = 29–101) among the three populations. Genetic bottleneck analysis showed no indication of excess heterozygosity in any of the populations. There was high frequency of rare alleles, suggesting that An. arabiensis in the study area has a high potential of responding to selective pressures from environmental changes and vector control efforts. These findings imply that An. arabiensis in the study area occurs as a single, continuous panmictic population with great ability to adapt to human-imposed selective pressures.
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Vol. 47 • No. 2