Mosquito Biology

Mosquito symbiont malaria defense

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Science  24 Nov 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6366, pp. 1016-1017
DOI: 10.1126/science.358.6366.1016-f

A bacterium in mosquitoes blocks malaria parasite transmission.

PHOTO: JIM GATHANY/CDC

The bacterium Wolbachia is found in many arthropods, in which it can manipulate host reproductive success. It has long been considered a candidate for controlling disease-carrying mosquitoes. Until recently, Wolbachia had not been found in anopheline malaria-transmitting mosquitoes. Gomes et al. add to recent discoveries by identifying a Wolbachia in Anopheles gambiae, called wAnga-Mali, in a large collection of >13,000 field-caught mosquitoes. Although the numbers of wAnga-Mali in the mosquitoes were very low, there was a strong negative correlation between the presence of Wolbachia and that of malaria parasites. Subsequent experimentation showed that coinfected mosquitoes tolerated early malaria parasite stages, but the plasmodium then failed to enter the insect's salivary glands and become infectious. Unfortunately, no evidence was found for mosquito reproductive manipulation by this strain of Wolbachia.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1716181114 (2017).

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