Local selection in the presence of high levels of gene flow: Evidence of heterogeneous insecticide selection pressure across Ugandan Culex quinquefasciatus populations

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2017 Oct 3;11(10):e0005917. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005917. eCollection 2017 Oct.


Background: Culex quinquefasciatus collected in Uganda, where no vector control interventions directly targeting this species have been conducted, was used as a model to determine if it is possible to detect heterogeneities in selection pressure driven by insecticide application targeting other insect species.

Methodology/principal findings: Population genetic structure was assessed through microsatellite analysis, and the impact of insecticide pressure by genotyping two target-site mutations, Vgsc-1014F of the voltage-gated sodium channel target of pyrethroid and DDT insecticides, and Ace1-119S of the acetylcholinesterase gene, target of carbamate and organophosphate insecticides. No significant differences in genetic diversity were observed among populations by microsatellite markers with HE ranging from 0.597 to 0.612 and low, but significant, genetic differentiation among populations (FST = 0.019, P = 0.001). By contrast, the insecticide-resistance markers display heterogeneous allelic distributions with significant differences detected between Central Ugandan (urban) populations relative to Eastern and Southwestern (rural) populations. In the central region, a frequency of 62% for Vgsc-1014F, and 32% for the Ace1-119S resistant allele were observed. Conversely, in both Eastern and Southwestern regions the Vgsc-1014F alleles were close to fixation, whilst Ace1-119S allele frequency was 12% (although frequencies may be underestimated due to copy number variation at both loci).

Conclusions/significance: Taken together, the microsatellite and both insecticide resistance target-site markers provide evidence that in the face of intense gene flow among populations, disjunction in resistance frequencies arise due to intense local selection pressures despite an absence of insecticidal control interventions targeting Culex.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Distribution
  • Animals
  • Culex / drug effects*
  • Culex / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Flow*
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genotype
  • Insect Proteins / genetics
  • Insect Proteins / metabolism
  • Insecticide Resistance / genetics*
  • Insecticides / pharmacology*
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Uganda


  • Insect Proteins
  • Insecticides