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New study examines immunity in emerging species of a major mosquito carrer of malaria
Date:12/20/2010

rose recently in M populations from West Africa, and that it is beneficial in the mosquitoes' ability to fight off pathogenic infections.

Previous research has shown that TEP1 confers broad-spectrum protection against bacteria and parasites, so resistance is not specific to malaria parasites, and may have evolved in response to entirely different pathogens found in the aquatic habitat of immature mosquitoes. The implication for malaria transmission by the adult mosquitoes is nonetheless apparent.

"On theoretical grounds, we expect that as two groups of mosquitoes begin to adapt to alternative types of habitats, aspects of their behavior and physiology will change to improve their survival in those habitats," Besansky said. "Even though none of these changes may come about as a direct consequence of infection with malaria parasites, changes in mosquito lifespan, fertility, or density that can accompany ecological adaptation will impact the mosquitoes' role in malaria transmission. Our results provide a possible example of this process.

"In the M form, we have a situation in which modifications to a key player in mosquito immunity even if the change may have been selected in response to immune challenge at the aquatic stage can alter the dynamics of malaria transmission by the adults. Changes in these sorts of behavioral and physiological traits between M and S also have the potential to affect the degree of mosquito exposure or its response to malaria interventions."

Besansky notes much work remains to be done to better understand the specific forces driving immune and other changes in M and S, and their impact on malaria transmission. Important, but challenging, next steps will be to study mosquito immune responses under conditions that more closely mimic those encountered in the field in natural populations.


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Contact: Nora Besansky
beasansky.1@nd.edu
574-631-9321
University of Notre Dame
Source:Eurekalert

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