The first molecular and phenotypic characterization of the invasive population of Aedes albopictus (Diptera: Culicidae) from the Central Balkans.
Aedes (Stegomya) albopictus (Skuse 1984), the Asian tiger mosquito, represents the most invasive and one of the medically most important mosquito vectors. Although native to South East Asia, the species has recently spread globally, and was registered in the city of Novi Sad (Serbia, Central Balkans) in August 2018. We characterized the invasive population using phenotypic (wing size and shape) and molecular (nuclear, internal transcribed spacer 2-ITS2, and mitochondrial, cytochrome c oxidase subunit I-COI) markers. The results of phenotypic analyses indicated that the Serbian population could be differentiated from the native (Thailand) and invasive (Hawaii and Florida) populations due to restricted gene flow, founder effect, and supposed different strain origin. The Serbian population showed genetic homogeneity, indicative of a small founder number (bottleneck invasion model). Despite the incorporation of ITS2 GenBank sequences into the data set, neither spatial (Geneland) nor nonspatial (BAPS) genetic structuring analyses helped infer the Serbian population origin. However, the comparison of the retrieved COI haplotype with previously characterized mitogenomes indicated a temperate strain origin, capable of overwintering. Such findings suggest that the newly registered Ae. albopictus population could be able to establish itself since previous studies outlined Novi Sad as a suitable area.