Yellow fever virus is a reemerging infection responsible for widespread, sporadic outbreaks across Africa. Although Aedes aegypti (L.) is the most important vector globally, in East Africa, epidemics may be vectored by Aedes bromeliae (Theobald), a member of the Aedes simpsoni (Theobald) species complex. The Ae. simpsoni complex contains 10 subspecies, of which Ae. bromeliae alone has been incriminated as a vector of yellow fever virus. However, morphological markers cannot distinguish Ae. bromeliae from conspecifics, including the sympatric and non-anthropophilic Aedes lilii (Theobald). Here, we used three sequenced nuclear markers to examine the population structure of Ae. simpsoni complex mosquitoes collected from diverse habitats in Rabai, Kenya. Gene trees consistently show strong support for the existence of two clades in Rabai, with segregation by habitat. Domestic mosquitoes segregate separately from forest-collected mosquitoes, providing evidence of habitat partitioning on a small spatial scale (<5 km). Although speculative, these likely represent what have been described as Ae. bromeliae and Ae. lilii, respectively. The observation of high levels of diversity within Rabai indicates that this species complex may exhibit significant genetic differentiation across East Africa. The genetic structure, ecology, and range of this important disease vector are surprisingly understudied and need to be further characterized.
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Vol. 51 • No. 3