Despite progress in reducing malaria transmission with insecticide-based vector control, the disease continues to claim over 500,000 lives per year, most of which are African children. A significant impediment to control in Africa is the presence of Anopheles gambiae - a uniquely efficient mosquito vector endemic to the continent. While great advancements have been made in the molecular biology and genetics of An. gambiae over the past decade, inadequate data on recombination rate in this species prevents novel and traditional vector control strategies from being deployed with maximum effectiveness. Recombination is a fundamental biological process with profound evolutionary implications. In mosquitoes and other sexual eukaryotes, recombination between homologous chromosomes is required for both the proper formation of haploid gametes from diploid germ cells and the production of new combinations of alleles. However, the rate at which recombination occurs varies with genomic position, sex, and the presence of chromosomal inversions. Such variation in recombination rate influences a myriad of evolutionary processes including the efficacy of natural selection, levels of standing diversity, and the elimination of deleterious mutations. Usin high-throughput next generation sequencing techniques, this project aims to: 1) create a high-resolution recombination rate map for female An. gambiae, 2) create a high-resolution recombination rate map for male An. gambiae, and 3) systematically determine the effect of inversions on recombination. Our quantitative data on recombination will aid in the design, implementation, and evaluation of control strategies targeting An. gambiae, while also greatly improving the power of population genetics and whole-genome association studies in this species. Ultimately, this project provides a critical tool in the fight against malaria.
Recombination occurs when chromosomes exchange genetic material in the parent before being passed on to the offspring. We will create high-resolution recombination rate maps for the African malaria mosquito, which can be used to evaluate and refine vector control strategies that will ultimately reduce disease transmission to humans.
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