I have been developing a self-regenerating system of symbiotic microbe-based malaria control. My team recently demonstrated that a Microsporidian symbiont completely blocks the transmission of the malaria parasite by Anopheles mosquitoes. This symbiotic microbe can be disseminated through insect populations and by virtue of sexual and vertical transmission (mother to offspring) routes. This system could be developed into an effective and sustainable novel control tool for malaria.

We have identified a previously unknown vertically transmitted Anopheles-associated symbiotic microsporidian (Microsporidia MB). The naturally occurring inherited Microsporidia MB symbiont has a strong malaria transmission-blocking phenotype in Anopheles arabiensis, the predominant Anopheles gambiae sub-species in many active transmission areas in eastern Africa. Importantly, this symbiont can spread in mosquito populations through both vertical (mother to offspring) and horizontal/sexual transmission. Moreover, Microsporidia MB is not virulent towards its host, An. arabiensis mosquitoes. The ability of Microsporidia MB to block Plasmodium transmission together with its ability to spread within Anopeheles populations and its avirulence makes it a very attractive candidate for developing a key strategy toward stable vector population replacement. We plan to develop these findings into a highly novel control strategy with ‘game-changing’ potential.

Tags: Malaria, Mosquito, Symbiosis, Parasite, Symbiont for malaria control, Global Health, Africa, End Malaria, Vector borne diseases, Microsporidia MB, Symbiont, Malaria

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