Characterization and High-Throughput Identification of Microsporidia in Anopheles Mosquitoes
Jabara, Jordan K.
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Every year Malaria accounts for over 400,000 deaths, and is caused by the Plasmodium falciparum parasite. With the rise of insecticide and antimalarial drug resistance, alternative methods of transmission control must be explored. Recent focus has shifted to insect endosymbionts that may protect against the transmission of mosquito borne disease, a prime example being the use of Wolbachia (bacteria), to control the transmission of Dengue, Chikungunya, and Zika. The aim of this project was to study Microsporidia identified in certain regions of Kenya, as potential candidates for transmission blocking of malaria. A high-throughput screening method was designed using PCR-based High Resolution Melting analysis, for the detection of several clades of Microsporidia. In Mwea, Crispospora was found in the greatest average prevalence (29%), followed by Parathelohania (2.5%) and Takaokaspora (0.6%) in Anopheles mosquitoes. Crispospora transmission was observed on both a horizontal and vertical basis. Tissue distribution of Crispospora indicated the highest infection rate is located within the ovaries, followed by the mid-gut, and head/thorax (p>0.05). In Mwea, Crispospora prevalence was greater in the wet season, relative to the dry season (p<0.001), while the infection rate in females was larger than males. Crispospora-Plasmodium co-infection rates on the Mangete and Mangare islands of Lake Victoria did not differ from the overall Plasmodium prevalence on the islands. In addition, no difference in Plasmodium density was observed between those uninfected or infected with Crispospora (p>0.05). These findings suggest that Crispospora does not directly protect Anopheles mosquitoes from Plasmodium infection.