An African mosquito species with a deadly capacity to transmit malaria has a perplexing evolutionary history. This African species can, however, help with the research directed at tackling malaria.
The research could have implications for malaria control by enabling researchers to detect and target specific genetic changes associated with the capacity to transmit a parasite.
The scientists used chromosomal analysis to compare gene arrangements for mosquitoes both inside and outside the mosquito family to trace the evolutionary connections.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.
Malaria causes as many as 907,000 deaths each year, mostly among children in sub-Saharan Africa.
The research paper reference is:
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)