The Analysis of the Ebony Gene in Culex tarsalis Across the Major Drainages of Montana
Many species have natural variations. One of the most obvious is in their color or pigmentation. Culex tarsalis is a vector for the virus known as West Nile Virus. This species of mosquito is found across the state of Montana. The environments that this mosquito inhabits are also quite varied ranging from swamps, wetlands, lakes, and prairie springs. The environments offer various selective pressures that may select for different color variations within the species. To determine if any are distinct, RNA gene templates were extracted from various drainages across the state and were quantified via PCR. The gene being quantified was the ebony gene and the control was the quantification of the actin gene. The values were then normalized and statistical analysis was performed to determine whether or not any of the drainages differed significantly. The significantly different drainages and populations were noted and possible reasons for the differences were explored. These populations may be distinct due to the active selective pressure against other color variations which inhibits gene flow from populations with a different color type. These populations can then be targeted for experiments to determine a more accurate means of observing gene flow for Culex tarsalis across Montana.