The population genetics of partial diapause, with applications to the aestivating malaria mosquito Anopheles coluzzii

Mol Ecol Resour. 2024 May;24(4):e13949. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.13949. Epub 2024 Mar 21.


Diapause, a form of dormancy to delay or halt the reproductive development during unfavourable seasons, has evolved in many insect species. One example is aestivation, an adult-stage diapause enhancing malaria vectors' survival during the dry season (DS) and their re-establishment in the next rainy season (RS). This work develops a novel genetic approach to estimate the number or proportion of individuals undergoing diapause, as well as the breeding sizes of the two seasons, using signals from temporal allele frequency dynamics. Our modelling shows the magnitude of drift is dampened at early RS when previously aestivating individuals reappear. Aestivation severely biases the temporal effective population size ( N e $$ {N}_e $$ ), leading to overestimation of the DS breeding size by 1 / 1 - α 2 $$ 1/{\left(1-\alpha \right)}^2 $$ across 1 year, where α $$ \alpha $$ is the aestivating proportion. We find sampling breeding individuals in three consecutive seasons starting from an RS is sufficient for parameter estimation, and perform extensive simulations to verify our derivations. This method does not require sampling individuals in the dormant state, the biggest challenge in most studies. We illustrate the method by applying it to a published data set for Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes from Thierola, Mali. Our method and the expected evolutionary implications are applicable to any species in which a fraction of the population diapauses for more than one generation, and are difficult or impossible to sample during that stage.

Keywords: aestivation; diapause; genetic drift; persistence; temporal allele frequency.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Anopheles* / genetics
  • Diapause*
  • Genetics, Population
  • Humans
  • Malaria*
  • Mosquito Vectors / genetics
  • Seasons