£1million MRC award to fight malaria
Malaria remains a major cause of mortality in many parts of Africa. The control of mosquito populations remains one of the most efficient ways of decreasing the incidence of the disease.
A major new award of £1million from the Medical Research Council African Research Leader Scheme will support links with Africa, bringing together the medical entomology teams of Dr Frederic Tripet, of Keele University's Centre for Applied Entomology and Parasitology, and Dr Abdoulaye Diabate, of the Centre Muraz in Burkina Faso.
The objective of the project is to better understand male mosquito mating behaviour, enabling new strategies to eliminate malaria. The project will support eight staff for five years with significant fieldwork in villages in Burkina Faso and lengthy visits of staff to Keele's laboratories in the Research Institute for Science and Technology in Medicine.
Malaria remains a major cause of mortality in many parts of Africa. The control of mosquito populations remains one of the most efficient ways of decreasing the incidence of the disease. Understanding mosquito swarming and mating behaviour may lead to new tools for controlling mosquito populations by targeting swarms with traps or insecticides. Male mating behaviour is also crucial for vector control programmes aiming to release sterile male mosquitoes that mate with wild females and induce their sterility, and for future programmes aiming to introduce genes of refractoriness to malaria into mosquito populations, via genetically-modified mosquitoes. So far laboratory-reared male mosquitoes have been unable to mate with wild females effectively, thereby casting doubt on the efficiency of mosquito releases.
An important first part of the research programme will thus focus on understanding what determines swarm size and location in view of vector control. The second part will focus on the ecology and molecular basis of mate choice and mating success in swarms, with the goal of improving the mating performance of laboratory-reared mosquitoes. The proposed research studies will include ecological experiments in specially designed large outdoor cages and selected villages in Burkina Faso and will also benefit from the latest molecular advances in the laboratories at Keele.
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