Species of the genus Culex Linnaeus have been incriminated as the main vectors of lymphatic filariases and are important vectors of arboviruses, including West Nile virus. Sequences corresponding to a fragment of 478 bp of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene, which includes part of the barcode region, of 37 individuals of 17 species of genus Culex were generated to establish relationships among five subgenera, Culex, Phenacomyia, Melanoconion, Microculex, and Carrollia, and one species of the genus Lutzia that occurs in Brazil. Bayesian methods were employed for the phylogenetic analyses. Results of sequence comparisons showed that individuals identified as Culex dolosus, Culex mollis, and Culex imitator possess high intraspecific divergence (3.1, 2.3, and 3.5%, respectively) when using the Kimura two parameters model. These differences were associated either with distinct morphological characteristics of the male genitalia or larval and pupal stages, suggesting that these may represent species complexes. The Bayesian topology suggested that the genus and subgenus Culex are paraphyletic relative to Lutzia and Phenacomyia, respectively. The cytochrome c oxidase subunit I sequences may be a useful tool to both estimate phylogenetic relationships and identify morphologically similar species of the genus Culex.
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Vol. 48 • No. 2