Background: Aedes aegypti, the vector of dengue fever, was first reported in Yunnan in 2002. Now, this species is found in nine counties in border areas of south-west Yunnan. Related dengue fever outbreaks have been reported since 2013. The population genetics of Ae. aegypti in these areas were studied to explain the expansion history of this species.
Methods: Fifteen natural populations of Ae. aegypti were sampled from six counties of Yunnan, and two laboratory populations from Guangdong and Hainan were also included in this study. A total of 12 microsatellite loci and three mitochondrial genes were analysed.
Results: The results indicate that Ae. aegypti populations from Yunnan show similar genetic diversity. The 17 populations could be divided into three groups: the first group included populations from Longchuan, Ruili and Gengma, which are located in the southwest of Yunnan; the second group included populations from Jinghong and Menghai, in the south of Yunnan; and the third group included populations from Mengla and the two laboratory populations from Guangdong and Hainan. Both microsatellite and mtDNA data revealed that the genetic relationships of the populations corresponded to their geographic relationships.
Conclusions: The results suggested that the expansion of Ae. aegypti from northern Myanmar and Laos to southern and southwestern Yunnan was a natural process. The effect of human activity on expansion was not obvious. Surveillance efforts should still be focused on border areas where Ae. aegypti does not occur, and a powerful control strategy should be applied to prevent outbreaks of dengue fever.
Keywords: Aedes aegypti; Expansion; Microsatellite loci; Population genetics; Southwestern China.