The yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti (L.) (Diptera: Culicidae), is well recognized for its extensive adaptation to diverse ecological conditions and for genetic variation. Recognizing the importance of strain variation of this mosquito, researchers have established a large number of laboratory strains. Some of the popular strains have been used for research for years in many laboratories around the world. However, the exact origins of many of these strains are unknown. In this review, publications and archival records were examined to report the early laboratory mosquito rearing practices around the world and to identify the origins of selected strains. The records showed that inter-laboratory sharing of strains was already underway in the early part of the 20th century because of the ease of breeding Ae. aegypti and of sending eggs by mail. It also was found that the four strains established in major U.S. institutions by the mid-1930s, including the “ROCK” (short for Rockefeller) strain, had been derived from Cuba, Nigeria, Philippines, or Puerto Rico, all known for a long history of transmission of yellow fever virus or dengue virus rather than from North America. The strains used for research in Europe were primarily derived from West Africa, but strains of Asian, Caribbean, and South American origins also were used for comparative experiments among geographic strains. Neglected issues related to strain designation and original source identification in scientific publications were found and their relevance to current research is discussed.
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Vol. 47 • No. 6