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The invasive Korean bush mosquito Aedes koreicus (Diptera: Culicidae) in Germany as of 2020

Background The Korean bush mosquito Aedes koreicus was recently reported to have established a population in western Germany (Wiesbaden) in 2016. The species is difficult to distinguish morphologically from its close relative, the invasive Japanese bush mosquito Ae. japonicus, which is already widely distributed in many parts of Germany, including the area colonised by Ae. koreicus. Genetic confirmation of morphologically identified “Ae. japonicus” collection material, however, had only been done exceptionally before the German Ae. koreicus population became known. Methods Dried archived “Ae. japonicus” specimens both from the municipality of Wiesbaden and from deliberately and randomly selected distribution sites all over Germany were re-examined morphologically and genetically for admixture by Ae. koreicus. Moreover, cemeteries in the greater Wiesbaden area were sampled in 2019 and 2020 to check for Ae. koreicus spread. Korean and Japanese bush mosquitoes submitted to the German citizen science mosquito monitoring scheme “Mueckenatlas” in 2019 and 2020 were also subjected to particularly thorough species identification. The ND4 DNA sequences generated in this study in the context of species identification were phylogenetically compared to respective GenBank entries of Ae. koreicus. As a by-product, several genetic markers were evaluated for their suitability to identify Ae. koreicus. Results Aedes koreicus specimens could be identified in mosquito collection material and submissions from Wiesbaden from 2015 onwards, suggesting establishment to have happened in the same year as Ae. japonicus establishment. Detections of Ae. koreicus from 2019 and 2020 in Wiesbaden indicate a negligible enlargement of the populated area as described for 2018. Two Ae. koreicus specimens were also submitted from the city of Munich, southern Germany, in 2019 but further specimens could not be identified during immediate local inspections. Comparison of ND4 sequences generated in this and other studies demonstrate a high degree of homology, suggesting that this DNA region is not informative enough for clarification of origins and relationships of Ae. koreicus populations. For genetic identification of Ae. koreicus, PCR primers used for classical CO1 barcoding were found to lead to mismatches and produce no or incorrect amplicons. Alternative CO1 primers or a validated ND4 marker should be used instead. Conclusions Aedes koreicus is probably introduced into Germany every now and then but rarely succeeds in becoming established. As with most European populations, the German population is characterised by a limited expansion tendency. Since Ae. koreicus is a potential vector, however, Asian bush mosquitoes found at new places should be examined quite carefully and known distribution areas of Ae. japonicus regularly checked for the presence of Ae. koreicus.

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