Aim and Objective: Mosquitoes can transmit many types of viruses such as West Nile
virus and Zika virus and are responsible for a number of virus-causing diseases including malaria,
dengue fever, yellow fever, lymphatic filariasis, and Japanese B encephalitis. On January 19, 2016,
the first case of Zika virus infection was identified in Taiwan, which presents the need for studying
the mosquito species in the Taiwan Strait and evaluating the risk of the outbreak of this infection.
Materials and Method: In this study, we have collected 144 mosquito specimens from 42 species
belonging to nine genera from both sides of the Taiwan Strait during 2013 and 2014. We then
applied the COI DNA Barcoding technique to classify the specimens and performed a phylogenetic
analysis to infer the evolutionary history of these mosquitoes. Based on the analyses, we found that
though the mosquitoes from different sides of the Taiwan Strait share a lot of commonality, they
have a few regional specificities.
Results: Our results also suggested a very small divergences (1%~9%) between specimens from the
same mosquito species and relatively large divergences (8%~25%) between specimens from different
mosquito species. Within the same species, the divergence of specimens from the same region is
significantly smaller than that between two regions. A few highly divergent species between Fujian
and Taiwan (e.g., An.maculatus and Ae.elsiae) might be formed due to the so-called “cryptic
evolutionary events”, in which the species has differentiation into cryptic species due to geographical
differences without changing morphological characteristics.
Conclusion: In conclusion, the phylogenetic analyses showed a very similar taxonomy to the
historical one based on morphological characteristics, validating again the application of COI DNA
Barcoding technique in classifying mosquito species. However, there are also some inconsistencies
between COI DNA Barcoding and historical taxonomy, which points out the differences between
mosquito DNA and morphological characteristics and suggests the possibility to improve mosquito
taxonomy based on DNA techniques.