Existing vector control measures rely on continued mosquito susceptibility to various insecticides, but resistance has evolved to all four insecticide classes currently in use, and new vector control strategies, including strategies that target reproduction, are sorely needed.
Several species of Anopheles are responsible for the majority of transmission in Africa, where the disease causes the most morbidity. In Anopheles mosquitoes, levels of the hormone 20-hydroxyecdysone (20E) in females can be influenced by two major factors: blood-feeding and mating.
In the new study, Dahalan and colleagues investigate the impact of both mating and 20E on female mosquito susceptibility to P. falciparum. “If male-derived 20E enhances vector competence of mated females in nature, then male mosquitoes may be contributing to malaria transmission in previously unappreciated ways. It is possible that vector control strategies that target males may have additional benefits toward reducing transmission,” said Farah Dahalan.