Spatial distributions of Anopheles species in relation to malaria incidence at 70 localities in the highly endemic Northwest and South Pacific coast regions of Colombia

Martha L. Ahumada, Lorena I. Orjuela, Paula X. Pareja, Marcela Conde, Diana M. Cabarcas, Eliana F.G. Cubillos, Jorge A. Lopez, John C. Beier, Sócrates Herrera, Martha L. Quiñones

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22 Scopus citations


Background: A proper identification of malaria vectors is essential for any attempt to control this disease. Between 40 and 47 Anopheles species have been recorded in Colombia, and eight species complexes have been identified in the last decade. An update of Anopheles species distribution and its relationship with malaria is required, particularly for newly identified members of species complexes. Methods: A cross-sectional entomological study was conducted at 70 localities in the highest malaria transmission areas in Colombia. In each locality, immature and adult mosquitoes were collected. All specimens were determined using morphological characters and confirmed used restriction profiles of Internal Transcribed Spacer 2 (PCR-RFLP-ITS2), and Cytochrome c Oxidase I (COI) sequence gene. To detect natural Plasmodium infections, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and nested PCR analysis were used. Distribution of Anopheles species was spatially associated with malaria incidence. Results: A total of 1736 larvae and 12,052 adult mosquitoes were determined in the 70 localities. Thirteen Anopheles species were identified. COI sequence analysis suggested 4 new lineages for Colombia: for Anopheles albimanus (An. albimanus B), Anopheles pseudopunctipennis s.l., Anopheles neivai (An. neivai nr. neivai 4), and Anopheles apicimacula. Two members of species complexes were identified, as: Anopheles nuneztovari C, and Anopheles albitarsis I. Another seven species were confirmed. Four mosquitoes were infected with Plasmodium species, An. albimanus B and An. nuneztovari C. In Northwest of Colombia, An. nuneztovari C, An. albimanus, and Anopheles darlingi were present in the municipalities with highest annual parasitic index (API) (>35 cases/1000 inhabitants). In the north of South Pacific coast, with a similar API, An. nuneztovari C were widely distributed inland, and the main species in coastal regions were An. albimanus B and An. neivai s.l. In the South Pacific coast bordering with Ecuador, 3 Anopheles species were found in municipalities with high API (15-88 cases/1000 inhabitants): An. albimanus B, Anopheles calderoni and An. neivai s.l. Conclusions: In the highest malaria areas of Colombia, 13 Anopheles species and four new lineages were found, which highlights the need for updating the species distribution. A DNA barcode analysis allowed the taxonomic identification to be refined, particularly for species complexes, and to improve the further understanding of their relation with malaria transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number407
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalMalaria Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016


  • Anopheles
  • Colombia
  • Cytochrome c oxidase I
  • Malaria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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