Identifying the main mosquito species in China based on DNA barcoding

PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47051. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047051. Epub 2012 Oct 10.


Mosquitoes are insects of the Diptera, Nematocera, and Culicidae families, some species of which are important disease vectors. Identifying mosquito species based on morphological characteristics is difficult, particularly the identification of specimens collected in the field as part of disease surveillance programs. Because of this difficulty, we constructed DNA barcodes of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1, the COI gene, for the more common mosquito species in China, including the major disease vectors. A total of 404 mosquito specimens were collected and assigned to 15 genera and 122 species and subspecies on the basis of morphological characteristics. Individuals of the same species grouped closely together in a Neighborhood-Joining tree based on COI sequence similarity, regardless of collection site. COI gene sequence divergence was approximately 30 times higher for species in the same genus than for members of the same species. Divergence in over 98% of congeneric species ranged from 2.3% to 21.8%, whereas divergence in conspecific individuals ranged from 0% to 1.67%. Cryptic species may be common and a few pseudogenes were detected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • China
  • Culicidae / classification*
  • Culicidae / genetics*
  • DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / genetics
  • Phylogeny*


  • Electron Transport Complex IV

Grant support

This work was supported by the Infective Diseases Prevention and Cure Project of China (NO: 2008ZX10402) and (NO: 2012ZX10004219).