Determination of Anopheles gambiae larval DNA in the gut of insectivorous dragonfly (Libellulidae) nymphs by polymerase chain reaction

Maria E. Morales, Dawn M. Wesson, Ian W. Sutherland, Daniel E. Impoinvil, Charles M. Mbogo, John I. Githure, John C. Beier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We examined the predator-prey relationship between larvae of the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae and nymphs of the dragonfly (Libellulidae). Studies were conducted to determine whether polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can be used to detect DNA of An. gambiae in the gut of libellulid nymphs, and to determine how long after feeding on An. gambiae that mosquito DNA remains detectable by PCR. Total DNA was extracted from the gut contents of libellulid nymphs by using 2 types of DNA extraction methods. The target sequence for the diagnostic PCR was the intergenic spacer regions of the ribosomal DNA gene locus. These sequences were analyzed by using An. gambiae complex-specific primers. After analyzing nymphal gut contents with PCR at regular postfeed intervals, a 390-base pair product could be amplified. The presence of mosquito larvae was visually confirmed for up to 40 min after feeding. Regardless of the number of mosquito larvae ingested, libellulid gut contents could be amplified or visually seen up to 1 h of digestion. This result indicates the nymphs have a high rate of digestion and that PCR with An. gambiae complex primers will be best utilized within 1 h after feeding as a detection system. This study confirmed that dragonfly nymphs feed well on anopheline larvae, and that mosquito DNA, although rapidly digested, can be successfully recovered and detected from within nymphal digestive tracts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-165
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of the American Mosquito Control Association
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Anopheles gambiae
  • Dragonfly nymphs
  • Gut-content analysis
  • Polymerase chain reaction
  • Predator-prey interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science


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