INVESTIGATING DIFFERENTIAL ATTRACTIVENESS OF HUMAN SKIN MICROBIOTA TO ANOPHELES GAMBIAE AS A POTENTIAL COMPONENT OF BAITED SUGAR TRAPS CONTAINING ANTI-PLASMODIUM BACTERIA FOR BIOLOGICAL CONTROL
Majeau, Alicia Catherine
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Malaria is a pressing global health problem that is difficult to eradicate or even control because of its complex biology. Currently employed control mechanisms are inefficient, and as a result of the need for alternative interventions, some research has focused on investigating the influence of the microbiota on mosquito vector competence. While some bacteria of the mosquito midgut have been shown to confer refractoriness to the Plasmodium parasite as well as shorten the mosquito lifespan, we are still far from a real world application of a bacterium as a biological control mechanism for malaria. Spiked sugar feeding stations have been proposed as a mechanism of introducing the bacteria into local vector populations. This project aimed to investigate means of attracting mosquitoes to feed on the malaria parasite-blocking Enterobacter (Esp_Z) bacteria- spiked sugar, using human skin microbiota isolates as potential attractants. We also investigated the impact of bacterial exposure on mosquito life span and fecundity as general fitness parameters. Minimal fitness costs were observed by sugar-feeding Plasmodium-killing bacteria in the lab environment. No foot microbiome isolate was found to attract mosquitoes on its own, although one was found to exert mosquito repelling activity. However when this bacterial isolate was combined with an attractant that zoophilic mosquitoes respond to, an increase in attraction was observed. While much work is still needed, our results provide useful knowledge for the development of this type of biological control.