Nevin Manimala Statistics

Sibling species of the major malaria vector Anopheles gambiae display divergent preferences for aquatic breeding sites in southern Nigeria

Malar J. 2024 Feb 27;23(1):60. doi: 10.1186/s12936-024-04871-9.


BACKGROUND: When integrated with insecticide-treated bed nets, larval control of Anopheles mosquitoes could fast-track reductions in the incidence of human malaria. However, larval control interventions may deliver suboptimal outcomes where the preferred breeding places of mosquito vectors are not well known. This study investigated the breeding habitat choices of Anopheles mosquitoes in southern Nigeria. The objective was to identify priority sites for mosquito larval management in selected urban and periurban locations where malaria remains a public health burden. METHODS: Mosquito larvae were collected in urban and periurban water bodies during the wet-dry season interface in Edo, Delta, and Anambra States. Field-collected larvae were identified based on PCR gel-electrophoresis and amplicon sequencing, while the associations between Anopheles larvae and the properties and locations of water bodies were assessed using a range of statistical methods.

RESULTS: Mosquito breeding sites were either man-made (72.09%) or natural (27.91%) and mostly drainages (48.84%) and puddles (25.58%). Anopheles larvae occurred in drainages, puddles, stream margins, and a concrete well, and were absent in drums, buckets, car tires, and a water-holding iron pan, all of which contained culicine larvae. Wild-caught Anopheles larvae comprised Anopheles coluzzii (80.51%), Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto (s.s.) (11.54%), and Anopheles arabiensis (7.95%); a species-specific PCR confirmed the absence of the invasive urban malaria vector Anopheles stephensi among field-collected larvae. Anopheles arabiensis, An. coluzzii, and An. gambiae s.s. displayed preferences for turbid, lowland, and partially sunlit water bodies, respectively. Furthermore, An. arabiensis preferred breeding sites located outside 500 m of households, whereas An. gambiae s.s. and An. coluzzii had increased detection odds in sites within 500 m of households. Anopheles gambiae s.s. and An. coluzzii were also more likely to be present in natural water bodies; meanwhile, 96.77% of An. arabiensis were in man-made water bodies. Intraspecific genetic variations were little in the dominant vector An. coluzzii, while breeding habitat choices of populations made no statistically significant contributions to these variations.

CONCLUSION: Sibling malaria vectors in the An. gambiae complex display divergent preferences for aquatic breeding habitats in southern Nigeria. The findings are relevant for planning targeted larval control of An. coluzzii whose increasing evolutionary adaptations to urban ecologies are driving the proliferation of the mosquito, and An. arabiensis whose adults typically evade the effects of treated bed nets due to exophilic tendencies.

PMID:38413961 | DOI:10.1186/s12936-024-04871-9

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