Resolution of systematic relationships among members of the Culex pipiens (L.) complex has important implications for public health as well as for studies on the evolution of sibling species. Currently held views contend that in California considerable genetic introgression occurs between Cx. pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus Say, and as such, these taxa behave as if they are a single species. Development of high throughput SNP genotyping tools for the analysis of Cx. pipiens complex population structure is therefore desirable. As a first step toward this goal, we sequenced 12 gene fragments from specimens collected in Marin and Fresno counties. On average, we found a higher single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) density than any other mosquito species reported thus far. Coding regions contained significantly higher GC content (median 54.7%) than noncoding regions (42.4%; Wilcoxon rank sum test, P = 5.29 × 10-5). Differences in SNP allele frequencies observed between mosquitoes from Marin and Fresno counties indicated significant genetic divergence and suggest that SNP markers will be useful for future detailed population genetic studies of this group. The high density of SNPs highlights the difficulty in identifying species within the complex and may be associated with the large degree of phenotypic variation observed in this group of mosquitoes.
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Vol. 49 • No. 2