- Malaria mosquitoes go with the flow
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- “Just relax and go with the flow”, is it really the best advice?
- To Go with the Flow (Origin)
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Malaria mosquitoes go with the flow
Team Building This professionally guided trip will provide you with fantastic memories that you will treasure forever. Team building. Corporate Packages. Enquire Now. Whitewater adventure for Sports Clubs. Previous Next. Our Clients. Best Deals on River Equipment. Read More Show Details. Figure 1 High-altitude winds enable the seasonal migration of African mosquitoes. Huestis et al. The authors studied sites in Mali region marked with a black circle in a semi-desert region of Africa called the Sahel.
In the rainy season, there is a sudden rapid rise in the number of mosquitoes in the Sahel. The seasonal patterns of high-altitude wind directions coloured arrows are consistent with rainy-season winds transporting mosquitoes into the Sahel from southerly sites, where mosquitoes reside throughout the year. During the dry season, winds from the north blow into the Sahel, which could transport mosquitoes southwards.
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Huestis and colleagues studied four villages in the Sahel region of Mali. The possibility that wet-season mosquito populations are re-established there by adults flying from the nearest year-round populations was excluded in a previous study 5 by this team. This is because the distance of more than km to such sites is prohibitively long for self-powered mosquito flight. A second possibility is that mosquitoes maintain a local presence and survive during the dry season, hidden away in a state of dormancy termed aestivation.
Important, albeit indirect, support for this hypothesis came from extensive population time-series analysis from that earlier study 5 , which showed beyond reasonable doubt that a mosquito vector species called Anopheles coluzzii persists locally in the dry season in as-yet-undiscovered places.
However, the data were not consistent with this outcome for other malaria vectors in the study area — the species Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles arabiensis — leaving wind-powered long-distance migration as the only remaining possibility to explain the data 5.
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Both modelling 6 and genetic studies 7 support the idea of long-distance migration to explain the seasonal dynamics of malaria mosquitoes in the Sahel, but many researchers have instead long discounted this phenomenon as being rare, accidental and inconsequential. This entrenched attitude has been difficult to dispel given the challenge of obtaining compelling direct evidence. Nets suspended at set altitudes ranging from 40 to metres above ground were launched at night malaria mosquitoes are nocturnal , for about 10 consecutive nights each month over a span of 22—32 months.
During a total of sampling nights, , insects were caught, which included 2, mosquitoes. Careful controls by the authors enabled them to conclude that the insects were captured at altitude and not during balloon deployment near the ground. Among the mosquitoes captured were A. Comparable distributions of species across villages and years, and consistent peaks in insect captures in the mid to late rainy season, indicate that high-altitude migration of malaria vectors is deliberate rather than accidental.
Yet many knowledge gaps remain.
Perhaps the most important of these is whether wind-borne migration includes malaria mosquitoes infected with malaria-causing parasites. However, the authors failed to detect parasite infections in their aerially sampled malaria vectors, a result that they assert is to be expected given the small sample size and the low parasite-infection rates typical of populations of malaria vectors.
A problem with this argument is that the typical infection rates they mention are based on one specific mosquito body part salivary glands , rather than the unknown but undoubtedly much higher infection rates that would be obtained if whole mosquito bodies were used to test for parasite infection.
“Just relax and go with the flow”, is it really the best advice?
If it is confirmed that there are wind-borne mosquitoes infected with the malaria-causing parasite, the implications of this would include the possibility of the reintroduction of disease into places where malaria has been previously eliminated, as well as the potential for the long-distance spread of drug-resistant parasites. Wind-borne malaria vectors, whether or not they are infected with parasites, could also profoundly affect the success of vector-control efforts.
For example, migration could foster the long-distance spread of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes, worsening an already dire situation, given the current spread of insecticide resistance in mosquito populations. This would be a matter of great concern because insecticides are the best means of malaria control currently available 8. However, long-distance migration could facilitate the desirable spread of mosquitoes for gene-based methods of malaria-vector control. One thing is certain, Huestis and colleagues have permanently transformed our understanding of African malaria vectors and what it will take to conquer malaria.
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Huestis, D. Service, M.
To Go with the Flow (Origin)
Chapman, J. Hu, G. Science , — Dao, A. Nature , — North, A.