Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mosquito genetics may offer clues to control malaria, researchers say

Date:
October 5, 2012
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
An African mosquito species with a deadly capacity to transmit malaria has a perplexing evolutionary history.

An African mosquito species with a deadly capacity to transmit malaria has a perplexing evolutionary history, according to discovery by researchers at the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech.

Closely related African mosquito species originated the ability to transmit human malaria multiple times during their recent evolution, according to a study published this week in PLoS Pathogens by Igor Sharakhov, an associate professor of entomology in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Maryam Kamali of Tehran, Iran, a Ph.D. student in the department of entomology. The discovery could have implications for malaria control by enabling researchers to detect and target specific genetic changes associated with the capacity to transmit a parasite.

Malaria causes as many as 907,000 deaths each year, mostly among children in sub-Saharan Africa. Anopheles mosquitoes, which bite mainly between dusk and dawn, transmit human malaria by spreading Plasmodium parasites that multiply in the human liver and infect red blood cells. But of the more than 400 species of mosquito belonging to the Anopheles genus, only about 20 are effective vectors of human malaria, according to the World Health Organization.

The most dangerous of these is the Anopheles gambiae mosquito species, one of seven in the Anopheles gambiae complex, which was thought to have recently evolved the ability to transmit malaria. However, Virginia Tech scientists' discoveries suggest that this species is actually genetically linked to an older, ancestral lineage.

Scientists used chromosomal analysis to compare gene arrangements for mosquitoes both inside and outside the Anopheles gambiae family to trace the evolutionary connections.

"The outside species served as a reference group for understanding the evolutionary relationship among Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes," Kamali said. "Our goal was to determine how different species arose in the Anopheles gambiae complex, as they all look identical, but have different behaviors and capacities to transmit human malaria."

When resolving the Anopheles gambiae evolutionary history, the scientists identified breaks in DNA that lead to new chromosomal arrangements, and used these rearrangements to demonstrate the repeated evolution of the ability to transmit a parasite, in a back-and-forth fashion.

"This curious stop-and-go flexibility could help us to better understand the nature of the mosquito's capacity to transmit malaria, and calls into question what is driving the genetic flexibility," Sharakhov said.

The discovery is innovative in the field of genetics research.

"The surprising aspect of the paper is the proposal of an ancestral and relatively ancient 2La polymorphism which arose in a hypothetical ancestor and has been maintained in Anopheles gambiae ever since," said Nora Besansky, the Rev. John Cardinal O'Hara C.S.C. professor of biological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, who was not involved in the study. "If confirmed, this would certainly lend novel insight into the evolutionary dynamics of chromosomal inversions in general, not only in mosquitoes."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Maryam Kamali, Ai Xia, Zhijian Tu, Igor V. Sharakhov. A New Chromosomal Phylogeny Supports the Repeated Origin of Vectorial Capacity in Malaria Mosquitoes of the Anopheles gambiae Complex. PLoS Pathogens, 2012; 8 (10): e1002960 DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1002960

Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Mosquito genetics may offer clues to control malaria, researchers say." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121005103243.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2012, October 5). Mosquito genetics may offer clues to control malaria, researchers say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121005103243.htm
Virginia Tech. "Mosquito genetics may offer clues to control malaria, researchers say." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121005103243.htm (accessed August 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Texas Quintuplets Head Home

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) After four months in the hospital, the first quintuplets to be born at Baylor University Medical Center head home. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Ebola Patient Coming to U.S. for Treatment

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 1, 2014) A U.S. aid worker infected with Ebola while working in West Africa will be treated in a high security ward at Emory University in Atlanta. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Ebola Vaccine Might Be Coming, But Where's It Been?

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Health officials are working to fast-track a vaccine — the West-African Ebola outbreak has killed more than 700. But why didn't we already have one? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Study Links Certain Birth Control Pills To Breast Cancer

Newsy (Aug. 1, 2014) Previous studies have made the link between birth control and breast cancer, but the latest makes the link to high-estrogen oral contraceptives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins