Driving mosquito refractoriness to Plasmodium falciparum with engineered symbiotic bacteria

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  29 Sep 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6358, pp. 1399-1402
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan5478

Getting to the guts of mosquito control

Malaria persistently evades our best efforts to eliminate it. Pike et al. genetically modified malaria vector mosquitoes to be more immune-resistant to infection by the parasite, which altered the composition of the mosquitoes' gut bacteria. Genetically modified male (female) mosquitoes preferentially mated with wild-type females (males). Ten generations later, the genetically modified mosquitoes constituted 90% of a caged population without losing resistance to the malaria parasite. In an alternative strategy, Wang et al. engineered mosquitoes' gut bacteria. A strain of nonpathogenic bacteria, AS1, was both sexually and transgenerationally transmitted. The strain infected a laboratory population of mosquitoes and persisted for at least three generations. AS1 engineered to inhibit malaria parasite development in the midgut could do so without handicapping the mosquitoes.

Science, this issue p. 1396, p. 1399


The huge burden of malaria in developing countries urgently demands the development of novel approaches to fight this deadly disease. Although engineered symbiotic bacteria have been shown to render mosquitoes resistant to the parasite, the challenge remains to effectively introduce such bacteria into mosquito populations. We describe a Serratia bacterium strain (AS1) isolated from Anopheles ovaries that stably colonizes the mosquito midgut, female ovaries, and male accessory glands and spreads rapidly throughout mosquito populations. Serratia AS1 was genetically engineered for secretion of anti-Plasmodium effector proteins, and the recombinant strains inhibit development of Plasmodium falciparum in mosquitoes.

View Full Text