Unraveling mosquito mating secrets for malaria prevention

A study led by Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and University of Perugia (Italy) researchers reveals intriguing new findings about mosquito mating behavior that one day could lead to new ways to control the spread of malaria by mosquitoes.

“The new study identifies the mechanism by which male mosquitoes manipulate female’s behavior to make them unreceptive to other males,” said senior author Flaminia Catteruccia, associate professor of immunology and infectious diseases at HSPH and associate professor, University of Perugia. “This study was done in Anopheles gambiae, the most important malaria vector, and offers new concrete possibilities to develop sterilizing compounds that can mimic this mechanism and render females sterile, contributing to stopping this devastating infectious disease.”

The study was published online November 3, 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Malaria is a leading cause of death in tropical and subtropical regions. The Plasmodium parasite that causes malaria is transmitted by the biting of female Anopheles mosquitoes. In Africa, the major mosquito vector is Anopheles gambiae.

Read the study: Sexual transfer of the steroid hormone 20E induces the postmating switch in Anopheles gambiae

Learn more

Thwarting Killer Mosquitoes: The State-of-the-Art Fight Against Malaria and West Nile Virus (The Forum at HSPH)

Infection in malaria-transmitting mosquito discovered (HSPH News)

Off the cuff: Mosquitoes, sex, & malaria (Harvard Public Health Magazine)