Abstracts (first author)
Exploring natural variation of entomopathogenic fungi in controlling malaria mosquitoesPDF
Malaria is a vector-borne disease that causes a huge burden to humanity, causing around 600 thousands deaths each year, of which 80% are children under the age of five years. Action to interrupt malaria transmission can be achieved by drugs and vector control. Current tools for vector control involve the use of insecticides though impregnated bed nets (ITNs) or indoor residual spraying (IRS). Unfortunately, these strategies have limitations because of the rapid spread of insecticide resistance in mosquitoes. New tools have to be employed to effectively combat malaria, such as entomopathogenic fungi that could be more sustainable and safe for the environment. To make this approach more effective and evolution proof, is crucial to study the components and mechanisms of fungal virulence by exploring the potential development of fungal resistance by the mosquito. We focus on the cosmopolitan fungus Beauveria bassiana which has already been successfully tested in field-based trials. In this study we characterized the natural variation of virulence of 20 isolates of B. bassiana that come from distinct regions of the world against the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae. Our results showed pronounced differences in virulence between isolates. Interestingly, there was no clear trend concerning geographic origin of isolates and virulence. We further evaluated the relationships between virulence and several fungal characteristics such as spore size, hyphal growth, UV resistance and conidiation production, among others. The contribution of these components to the overall virulence is elucidated. This study highlights the need of further multidisciplinary approaches for understanding the interaction among the many mechanisms shaping the virulence of B. bassiana against the insect An. gambiae.