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Concept: Mosquito control


Anopheles arabiensis is a dominant vector of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa, which feeds indoors and outdoors on human and other vertebrate hosts, making it a difficult species to control with existing control methods. Novel methods that reduce human-vector interactions are, therefore, required to improve the impact of vector control programmes. Investigating the mechanisms underlying the host discrimination process in An. arabiensis could provide valuable knowledge leading to the development of novel control technologies. In this study, a host census and blood meal analysis were conducted to determine the host selection behaviour of An. arabiensis. Since mosquitoes select and discriminate among hosts primarily using olfaction, the volatile headspace of the preferred non-human host and non-host species, were collected. Using combined gas chromatography and electroantennographic detection analysis followed by combined gas chromatography and mass spectrometry, the bioactive compounds in the headspace collections were identified. The efficiency of the identified non-host compounds to repel host-seeking malaria mosquitoes was tested under field conditions.

Concepts: Human, Malaria, Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Anopheles, Mosquito, Vector, Mosquito control


Malaria transmission is dependent on the propensity of Anopheles mosquitoes to bite humans (anthropophily) instead of other dead end hosts. Recent increases in the usage of Long Lasting Insecticide Treated Nets (LLINs) in Africa have been associated with reductions in highly anthropophilic and endophilic vectors such as Anopheles gambiae s.s., leaving species with a broader host range, such as Anopheles arabiensis, as the most prominent remaining source of transmission in many settings. An. arabiensis appears to be more of a generalist in terms of its host choice and resting behavior, which may be due to phenotypic plasticity and/or segregating allelic variation. To investigate the genetic basis of host choice and resting behavior in An. arabiensis we sequenced the genomes of 23 human-fed and 25 cattle-fed mosquitoes collected both in-doors and out-doors in the Kilombero Valley, Tanzania. We identified a total of 4,820,851 SNPs, which were used to conduct the first genome-wide estimates of “SNP heritability” for host choice and resting behavior in this species. A genetic component was detected for host choice (human vs cow fed; permuted P = 0.002), but there was no evidence of a genetic component for resting behavior (indoors versus outside; permuted P = 0.465). A principal component analysis (PCA) segregated individuals based on genomic variation into three groups which were characterized by differences at the 2Rb and/or 3Ra paracentromeric chromosome inversions. There was a non-random distribution of cattle-fed mosquitoes between the PCA clusters, suggesting that alleles linked to the 2Rb and/or 3Ra inversions may influence host choice. Using a novel inversion genotyping assay, we detected a significant enrichment of the standard arrangement (non-inverted) of 3Ra among cattle-fed mosquitoes (N = 129) versus all non-cattle-fed individuals (N = 234; χ2, p = 0.007). Thus, tracking the frequency of the 3Ra in An. arabiensis populations may be of use to infer selection on host choice behavior within these vector populations; possibly in response to vector control. Controlled host-choice assays are needed to discern whether the observed genetic component has a direct relationship with innate host preference. A better understanding of the genetic basis for host feeding behavior in An. arabiensis may also open avenues for novel vector control strategies based on driving genes for zoophily into wild mosquito populations.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Malaria, Anopheles, Mosquito, Principal component analysis, Mosquito control, Anopheles gambiae


The need to develop effective management strategies for insectivorous bat populations requires an understanding of factors influencing habitat use. Availability of pest prey, such as mosquitoes is likely to be one such factor. To assess whether this is the case, we radio-tracked Vespadelus vulturnus Thomas (little forest bat), a predator of Aedes vigilax Skuse (saltmarsh mosquito), in saltmarsh and adjacent coastal swamp forest during periods of high and low Ae. vigilax abundance. When mosquito abundance in structurally-open saltmarsh was similar to the more cluttered coastal swamp forest, use of saltmarsh by V. vulturnus was disproportionately greater than its availability, with saltmarsh selected preferentially for foraging. However, at times of low Ae. vigilax abundance in saltmarsh, use of saltmarsh by V. vulturnus was reduced and all habitats were used in proportion to availability in the study area. This is the first radio-tracking study to demonstrate a shift in foraging range by an insectivorous bat species correlated with fluctuations in the distribution and abundance of a particular prey resource. The shift in foraging range by V. vulturnus, corresponding with a spatio-temporal variation in abundance of Ae. vigilax highlights the importance of mosquitoes as a dietary item. Broadscale pest control of Ae. vigilax may have ecological implications for the diet and habitat use of V. vulturnus. An adaptive management approach is proposed, whereby careful monitoring of insectivorous bat populations is recommended before and after any application of broadscale mosquito control measures. We also suggest a precautionary approach is taken such that broadscale control of mosquitoes avoids the lactation period of bats, a time when their energetic demands are greatest and when there is reduced risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases transmitted by Ae. vigilax.

Concepts: Insect, Mosquito, Animal echolocation, Aedes, Bat, Mosquito control, Microbat, Vespadelus


Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease of growing global health importance. Prevention efforts focus on mosquito control, with limited success. New insights into the spatiotemporal drivers of dengue dynamics are needed to design improved disease-prevention strategies. Given the restricted range of movement of the primary mosquito vector, Aedes aegypti, local human movements may be an important driver of dengue virus (DENV) amplification and spread. Using contact-site cluster investigations in a case-control design, we demonstrate that, at an individual level, risk for human infection is defined by visits to places where contact with infected mosquitoes is likely, independent of distance from the home. Our data indicate that house-to-house human movements underlie spatial patterns of DENV incidence, causing marked heterogeneity in transmission rates. At a collective level, transmission appears to be shaped by social connections because routine movements among the same places, such as the homes of family and friends, are often similar for the infected individual and their contacts. Thus, routine, house-to-house human movements do play a key role in spread of this vector-borne pathogen at fine spatial scales. This finding has important implications for dengue prevention, challenging the appropriateness of current approaches to vector control. We argue that reexamination of existing paradigms regarding the spatiotemporal dynamics of DENV and other vector-borne pathogens, especially the importance of human movement, will lead to improvements in disease prevention.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Malaria, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Dengue fever, Mosquito control


Mosquito feeding behaviour determines the degree of vector-host contact and may have a serious impact on the risk of West Nile virus (WNV) epidemics. Feeding behaviour also interacts with other biotic and abiotic factors that affect virus amplification and transmission.

Concepts: Mosquito, Ribavirin, Dengue fever, Mosquito control, West Nile virus, DEET, Biotic component, Abiotic component


Resistance monitoring is essential in ensuring the success of insecticide based vector control programmes. This study was carried out to assess the susceptibility status of urban populations of Anopheles gambiae to carbamate insecticide being considered for vector control in mosquito populations previously reported to be resistant to DDT and permethrin.

Concepts: Malaria, Anopheles, Mosquito, Mosquito control, Insecticide, DDT, Pyrethroid, Carbamate


Malaria causes more than 300 million clinical cases and 665,000 deaths each year, and the majority of the mortality and morbidity occurs in sub-Saharan Africa. Due to the lack of effective vaccines and wide-spread resistance to antimalarial drugs, mosquito control is the primary method of malaria prevention and control. Currently, malaria vector control relies on the use of insecticides, primarily pyrethroids. The extensive use of insecticides has imposed strong selection pressures for resistance in the mosquito populations. Consequently, resistance to pyrethroids in Anopheles gambiae, the main malaria vector in sub-Saharan Africa, has become a major obstacle for malaria control. A key element of resistance management is the identification of resistance mechanisms and subsequent development of reliable resistance monitoring tools. Field-derived An. gambiae from Western Kenya were phenotyped as deltamethrin-resistant or -susceptible by the standard WHO tube test, and their expression profile compared by RNA-seq. Based on the current annotation of the An. gambiae genome, a total of 1,093 transcripts were detected as significantly differentially accumulated between deltamethrin-resistant and -susceptible mosquitoes. These transcripts are distributed over the entire genome, with a large number mapping in QTLs previously linked to pyrethorid resistance, and correspond to heat-shock proteins, metabolic and transport functions, signal transduction activities, cytoskeleton and others. The detected differences in transcript accumulation levels between resistant and susceptible mosquitoes reflect transcripts directly or indirectly correlated with pyrethroid resistance. RNA-seq data also were used to perform a de-novo Cufflinks assembly of the An. gambiae genome.

Concepts: Malaria, Africa, Anopheles, Mosquito, Dengue fever, Malaria prophylaxis, Mosquito control, Anopheles gambiae


BACKGROUND: The goal of malaria elimination necessitates an improved understanding of any fine-scale geographic variations in transmission risk so that complementary vector control tools can be integrated into current vector control programmes as supplementary measures that are spatially targeted to maximize impact upon residual transmission. This study examines the distribution of host-seeking malaria vectors at households within two villages in rural Tanzania. METHODS: Host-seeking mosquitoes were sampled from 72 randomly selected households in two villages on a monthly basis throughout 2008 using CDC light-traps placed beside occupied nets. Spatial autocorrelation in the dataset was examined using the Moran’s I statistic and the location of any clusters was identified using the Getis-Ord Gi* statistic. Statistical associations between the household characteristics and clusters of mosquitoes were assessed using a generalized linear model for each species. RESULTS: For both Anopheles gambiae sensu lato and Anopheles funestus, the density of host-seeking females was spatially autocorrelated, or clustered. For both species, houses with low densities were clustered in the semi-urban village centre while houses with high densities were clustered in the periphery of the villages. Clusters of houses with low or high densities of An. gambiae s.l. were influenced by the number of residents in nearby houses. The occurrence of high-density clusters of An. gambiae s.l. was associated with lower elevations while An. funestus was also associated with higher elevations. Distance from the village centre was also positively correlated with the number of household occupants and having houses constructed with open eaves. CONCLUSION: The results of the current study highlight that complementary vector control tools could be most effectively targeted to the periphery of villages where the households potentially have a higher hazard (mosquito densities) and vulnerability (open eaves and larger households) to malaria infection.

Concepts: Statistics, Malaria, Anopheles, Mosquito, Yellow fever, Vector, Mosquito control, Anopheles gambiae


The fight against diseases spread by mosquitoes and other insects has enormous environmental, economic and social consequences. Chemical insecticides remain the first line of defence but the control of diseases, especially malaria and dengue fever, is being increasingly undermined by insecticide resistance. Mosquitoes have a large repertoire of P450s (over 100 genes). By pinpointing the key enzymes associated with insecticide resistance we can begin to develop new tools to aid the implementation of control interventions and reduce their environmental impact on Earth. Recent technological advances are helping us to build a functional profile of the P450 determinants of insecticide metabolic resistance in mosquitoes. Alongside, the cross-responses of mosquito P450s to insecticides and pollutants are also being investigated. Such research will provide the means to produce diagnostic tools for early detection of P450s linked to resistance. It will also enable the design of new insecticides with optimized efficacy in different environments.

Concepts: Malaria, Insect, Mosquito, Cytochrome P450, Fever, Dengue fever, Vector, Mosquito control


Worldwide, more than 40% of the population is at risk from dengue and recent estimates suggest that up to 390 million dengue infections are acquired every year. The Eliminate Dengue (ED) Program is investigating the use of Wolbachia-infected, transmission-compromised, mosquitoes to reduce dengue transmission. Previous introductions of genetically-modified strategies for dengue vector control have generated controversy internationally by inadequately engaging host communities. Community Engagement (CE) was a key component of the ED Program’s initial open release trials in Queensland Australia. Their approach to CE was perceived as effective by the ED team’s senior leadership, members of its CE team, and by its funders, but if and why this was the case was unclear. We conducted a qualitative case study of the ED Program’s approach to CE to identify and critically examine its components, and to explain whether and how these efforts contributed to the support received by stakeholders.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mosquito, Qualitative research, Case study, Community, Mosquito control, West Nile virus, Queensland