The role of insulin cascades in regulating the host-species dependent fitness and parasite transmission ability of malaria mosquitoes


Malaria is an infectious disease caused by Plasmodium parasites that are transmitted by mosquito vector (Anopheles species) that kills thousands of people annually.

Currently, insecticide based control strategies are at risk due to increasing chemical resistance of mosquito population. The widespread use of vector control in the last two decades has strongly changed vector species composition in many areas observing a shift from An. gambiae to An. arabiensis, two species that possess different biting preferences, feeding predominantly on humans or cattle, respectively.

Furthermore, the host species they feed on differentially influence their survival, reproductive success and susceptibility to Plasmodium infection, affecting their vectorial capacity. Insulin/insulin growth factor I signalling (IIS) cascade plays an important role in the interplay between reproduction, lifespan and immunity in eukaryotic organisms comprising mosquitoes.

This project will investigate the role of IIS pathway in the regulation of the host-species dependent fitness in these two malaria mosquitoes, which ultimately regulate their ability to transmit the disease.

To achieve this, the project will include ecological and molecular analyses of mosquito responses to different host-species and will start to elucidate the mechanistic bases of the host-species related fitness, that might inform the design of novel tools for vector control.

First published: 22 August 2014

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