Members of the Culex sitiens subgroup are important vectors of arboviruses, including Japanese encephalitis virus, Murray Valley encephalitis virus and Ross River virus. Of the eight described species, Cx. annulirostris Skuse, Cx. sitiens Wiedemann, and Cx. palpalis Taylor appear to be the most abundant and widespread throughout northern Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG). Recent investigations using allozymes have shown this subgroup to contain cryptic species that possess overlapping adult morphology. We report the development of a polymerase chain reaction–restriction fragment-length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) procedure that reliably separates these three species. This procedure utilizes the sequence variation in the ribosomal DNA ITS1 and demonstrates species-specific PCR-RFLP profiles from both colony and field collected material. Assessment of the consistency of this procedure was undertaken on mosquitoes sampled from a wide geographic area including Australia, PNG, and the Solomon Islands. Overlapping adult morphology was observed for Cx. annulirostris and Cx. palpalis in both northern Queensland and PNG and for all three species at one site in northwest Queensland.
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Vol. 39 • No. 2