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Population age structure and age structure modification via Wolbachia in Anopheles gambiae
Framework programme:
Contract/Grant agreement number:
EC contribution:
1.000.000 €
36 months
Funding scheme:
Collaborative Small Project
Starting date:

Keywords: malaria, Anopheles, mosquito, Wolbachia, age


There are estimated to be 500 million cases of malaria annually, and 1 million to 3 million deaths, primarily associated with Plasmodium falciparum infections in sub-Saharan Africa. Mosquitoes of the Anopheles gambiae complex (An. gambiae and An. arabiensis in particular) are the major vectors in Africa. Insecticide-based control programmes targeting the vector have been the most successful method of controlling the disease, but effectiveness has been greatly reduced by insecticide resistance.

Aims and expected results

Wolbachia pipientis is a maternally inherited bacterial symbiont found in mosquitoes and many other arthropods. It manipulates insect reproduction to spread itself through populations. A Wolbachia strain named wMelPop has been identified that shortens adult lifespan in Drosophila flies. The aims are to infect Anopheles cell lines with Wolbachia, examine intracellular interactions with host cells, and then use these cell lines in microinjection experiments to create Wolbachia-infected An. gambiae lines. The lines will be characterised including any effects on lifespan, and host gene expression will be examined in both cells and mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia.

A second set of experiments will aim to identify An. gambiae genes showing age-specific patterns of expression, and use them to develop molecular methods for age estimation. The method will be calibrated and assessed using laboratory-reared mosquitoes and wild african populations. Population age structure will be estimated in different ecological forms of An. gambiae at field sites in Burkina Faso, in different seasons and both with and without insecticide-treated net use. Mathematical models will be constructed that will allow the analysis of different interventions affecting adult mosquito longevity, the dynamics of the spread of Wolbachia and its potential effects on malaria transmission.

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