Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, United Kingdom
Controlling malaria relies on targeting the Anopheles mosquito. Sustaining, let alone improving vector control is threatened by insecticide resistance and by gaps in our knowledge about mosquitoes’ biology. Cuticular hydrocarbons (CHC) can affect many traits, such as desiccation tolerance, insecticide resistance and mating, that influence mosquitoes’ ability to transmit pathogens. Although variation in CHC composition of malaria vectors is well documented, little is known about the genetic and environmental factors generating this diversity.
I aim to identify genes controlling CHC biosynthesis in Anopheles by isolating the cells synthesising hydrocarbons and determining their genetic composition. I will employ transgenic approaches to disrupt this pathway and investigate the effect on traits that determine mosquitoes’ fitness. This will enable us to understand how natural variations in CHC impact on mosquitoes’ adaptability to climate change and survival to vector control interventions.
Ultimately, these insights into mosquitoes’ biology will help the design of efficient vector control strategies.