Precise mosquito species identification is an essential step for proper management and control of malaria vectors. Misidentification of members in the Anopheles dirus complex, some which are primary malaria vectors in Thailand and mainland Southeast Asia, remains problematic because of indistinguishable or overlapping morphological characters between sibling species. Moreover, there is a need for alternative methods, since the existing molecular techniques in the literature are not entirely satisfactory in differentiating all members in the An. dirus complex. The nucleotide polymorphisms in the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) sequences were developed to identify the 4 species within the An. dirus complex using an allele-specific (AS) multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The identified primers amplified and clearly differentiated the 4 members of the complex found in Thailand, Anopheles dirus, An. cracens, An. scanloni, and An. baimaii with PCR products 428/104, 236, 625, and 428 bp, respectively. These results demonstrate that an AS-PCR based on the COI region can accurately identify 4 members of An. dirus complex and would be useful as an alternative PCR-based method for accurate species identification.
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