Using molecular and genetic methods to study the role of the cuticle in determining the vectorial capacity of mosquitoes.
Delineating the cuticular hydrocarbon biosynthesis pathway in the malaria vector An. gambiae
Malaria is among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in humans, mainly in developing countries, and its control relies heavily on targeting the Anopheles mosquito using insecticides. However, the implementation of efficient control strategies is challenged by insecticide resistance, that has reached a critical point, and by knowledge gaps on key aspects of the mosquito biology, that impede the search for new tools.
The cuticle, or outer layer, plays a critical role in the biology of mosquitoes and their response to control interventions. It protects from insecticides, prevents desiccation and influences mating. Despite its importance in controlling key traits little is known about its formation.
I will use molecular and genetic methods to identify genes controlling the synthesis of cuticular hydrocarbons in the malaria mosquito An. gambiae. The understanding of the critical steps in cuticular hydrocarbon biosynthesis would enable us to identify how variations in these genes affect key traits controlling the capacity of mosquitoes to carry malaria and design new strategies to target these disease vectors, and further control the spread of malaria.