Anopheles gambiae Giles has been implicated as a major vector of malaria in Africa. A number of paracentric chromosomal inversions have been observed as polymorphisms in wild and laboratory populations of this species. These polymorphisms have been used to demonstrate the existence of five reproductive units in West African populations that are currently described as incipient species. They have also been correlated with various behavioral characteristics such as adaptation to aridity and feeding preference and have been associated with insecticide resistance. Two paracentric inversions namely 2La and 2Rb are highly ubiquitous in the wild and laboratory populations sampled. Both inversions are easily conserved during laboratory colonization of wild material and one shows significant positive heterosis with respect to Hardy-Weinberg proportions. Inversion 2La has previously been associated with dieldrin resistance and inversion 2Rb shows an association with DDT resistance based on this study. The stability and maintenance of these inversions as polymorphisms provides an explanation for the transmission and continued presence of DDT and dieldrin resistance in a laboratory strain of An. gambiae in the absence of insecticide selection pressure. This effect may also be operational in wild populations. Stable inversion polymorphism also provides a possible mechanism for the continual inheritance of suitable genetic factors that otherwise compromise the fitness of genetically modified malaria vector mosquitoes.
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Vol. 39 • No. 4