Among the sibling species of the AfrotropicalAnopheles gambiae complex, the nominal taxon (An. gambiae s.str.) is the major malaria vector. Its bionomics suggest a man-dependent speciation process which involves, in West Africa, various incipient species chromosomally recognized by different combinations of 2R paracentric inversions. One of the most recent evolutionary steps of such a speciation process appears to be the chromosomal form Mopti, which is associated with dry season irrigation in arid zones, and is characterized by a remarkable ecological flexibility related to three 2R alternative arrangements, namelybc, u and +, whose expected karyotypes are found in Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The study of this chromosomal polymorphism in samples from a 16-locality transect in Mali shows wide variations and highly significant correlation with both temporal and spatial climatic differences. Mosquitoes homokaryotypic for 2Rbc are the actual dry season and arid areas breeders. The regular rise of 2Rbc frequency, up to fixation, during each dry season, corresponds to the South-North clinal increase of the same arrangement along the transect, from about 30% in the humid savanna to near fixation in the South-Saharan zone. This coherent ecological genetics case provides full support to the hypothesis of the adaptive nature of paracentric inversions. Moreover, the very peculiar system of combinations of contiguous 2R inversions, utilized by Mopti as well as by other chromosomal forms ofAn. gambiae, suggests a process of polygenic reorganization based on linkage disequilibria and involving the inversions as driving selection units.
adaptation Anopheles gambiaeparacentric inversions polymorphism West Africa