Malaria is a devastating infectious disease that kills almost a million people each year, mostly pregnant women and young children in Africa. In 2010 there were 200 million people infected with malaria, and 3.3 billion people were at risk of infection. This is half of the world population. Malaria is transmitted by the bite of an infected Anopheles mosquito. In the absence of an effective malaria vaccine, chemical control of the mosquito vector through the use of insecticides remains the best weapon to fight malaria transmission. Insecticide resistance in mosquitoes is however on the rise, and novel methods to control mosquito populations are urgently needed. Anopheles gambiae are the most effective malaria vectors, in part due to a high reproductive rate that maintains large population densities. One of the most promising novel opportunities for vector control is reducing the reproductive output of these mosquitoes by introducing genetic sterility in natural populations. Using molecular, genetic and genomics tools, the "Targeting the reproductive interactome of the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae" project will expand our fundamental understanding of the reproductive biology and physiology of An. gambiae. The project will identify genes and pathways regulating fertility and post-copulatory processes that shape the mosquito reproductive ability. The knowledge generated in this project will contribute to new methods of mosquito control, and eventually to a healthier populace in regions now devastated by malaria.
Mosquito control is an essential component of strategies aimed at stopping the spread of malaria. We are studying key reproductive processes in the malaria vector Anopheles gambiae to generate a deeper knowledge of factors and pathways regulating fertility in these mosquitoes. This knowledge will aid the design and implementation of novel mosquito control strategies to reduce the fertility of natural malaria-transmitting populations.
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