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1.  Culicoides (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae) midges, the vectors of African horse sickness virus – a host/vector contact study in the Niayes area of Senegal 
Parasites & Vectors  2015;8:39.
African horse sickness (AHS) is an equine disease endemic to Senegal. The African horse sickness virus (AHSV) is transmitted to the mammalian hosts by midges of the Culicoides Latreille genus. During the last epizootic outbreak of AHS in Senegal in 2007, 1,169 horses died from this disease entailing an estimated cost of 1.4 million euros. In spite of the serious animal health and economic implications of AHS, very little is known about determinants involved in transmission such as contact between horses and the Culicoides species suspected of being its vectors.
The monthly variation in host/vector contact was determined in the Niayes area, Senegal, an area which was severely affected by the 2007 outbreak of AHS. A horse-baited trap and two suction light traps (OVI type) were set up at each of five sites for three consecutive nights every month for one year.
Of 254,338 Culicoides midges collected 209,543 (82.4%) were female and 44,795 (17.6%) male. Nineteen of the 41 species collected were new distribution records for Senegal. This increased the number of described Culicoides species found in Senegal to 53. Only 19 species, of the 41 species found in light trap, were collected in the horse-baited trap (23,669 specimens) largely dominated by Culicoides oxystoma (22,300 specimens, i.e. 94.2%) followed by Culicoides imicola (482 specimens, i.e. 2.0%) and Culicoides kingi (446 specimens, i.e. 1.9%).
Culicoides oxystoma should be considered as a potential vector of AHSV in the Niayes area of Senegal due to its abundance on horses and its role in the transmission of other Culicoides-borne viruses.
PMCID: PMC4307892  PMID: 25604465
Animal health; Suspected vectors; Culicoides oxystoma; Culicoides imicola; Population dynamics
3.  Modulation of Malaria Infection in Anopheles gambiae Mosquitoes Exposed to Natural Midgut Bacteria 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81663.
The development of Plasmodium falciparum within the Anopheles gambiae mosquito relies on complex vector-parasite interactions, however the resident midgut microbiota also plays an important role in mediating parasite infection. In natural conditions, the mosquito microbial flora is diverse, composed of commensal and symbiotic bacteria. We report here the isolation of culturable midgut bacteria from mosquitoes collected in the field in Cameroon and their identification based on the 16S rRNA gene sequencing. We next measured the effect of selected natural bacterial isolates on Plasmodium falciparum infection prevalence and intensity over multiple infectious feedings and found that the bacteria significantly reduced the prevalence and intensity of infection. These results contrast with our previous study where the abundance of Enterobacteriaceae positively correlated with P. falciparum infection (Boissière et al. 2012). The oral infection of bacteria probably led to the disruption of the gut homeostasis and activated immune responses, and this pinpoints the importance of studying microbe-parasite interactions in natural conditions. Our results indicate that the effect of bacterial exposure on P. falciparum infection varies with factors from the parasite and the human host and calls for deeper dissection of these parameters for accurate interpretation of bacterial exposure results in laboratory settings.
PMCID: PMC3855763  PMID: 24324714
4.  Larval habitat segregation between the molecular forms of the mosquito, Anopheles gambiae in a rice field area of Burkina Faso, West Africa 
In West Africa, lineage splitting between the M and S molecular forms of the major Afro-tropical malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae is thought to be driven by ecological divergence, occurring mainly at the larval stage. Here, we present evidences for habitat segregation between the two molecular forms in and around irrigated rice-fields located within the humid savannahs background of western Burkina Faso. Longitudinal sampling of adult mosquitoes emerging from a range of breeding sites distributed along a transect extending from the heart of the rice-fields area into the surrounding savannahs was conducted from June to November 2009. Analysis revealed that the two molecular forms and their sibling species An. arabiensis are not randomly distributed in the area. A major ecological gradient was extracted, in relation to the rice-fields perimeter. The M form was associated with larger breeding sites, which were mainly represented by rice field paddies whereas the S form and An. arabiensis were found to depend upon temporary, rain-filled breeding sites. These results support hypotheses about larval habitat segregation and confirm that both forms have different larval habitat requirement. Segregation appears clearly linked to anthropogenic permanent habitats and the community structure they support.
PMCID: PMC3140611  PMID: 21501199
Anopheles gambiae; segregation; larval habitat; hydro-periodicity; community structure; niche partitioning
5.  Application of a qPCR Assay in the Investigation of Susceptibility to Malaria Infection of the M and S Molecular Forms of An. gambiae s.s. in Cameroon 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54820.
Plasmodium falciparum is the causative agent of malaria, a disease that kills almost one million persons each year, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. P. falciparum is transmitted to the human host by the bite of an Anopheles female mosquito, and Anopheles gambiae sensus stricto is the most tremendous malaria vector in Africa, widespread throughout the afro-tropical belt. An. gambiae s.s. is subdivided into two distinct molecular forms, namely M and S forms. The two molecular forms are morphologically identical but they are distinct genetically, and differ by their distribution and their ecological preferences. The epidemiological importance of the two molecular forms in malaria transmission has been poorly investigated so far and gave distinct results in different areas. We have developed a real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) assay, and used it to detect P. falciparum at the oocyst stage in wild An. gambiae s.s. mosquitoes experimentally infected with natural isolates of parasites. Mosquitoes were collected at immature stages in sympatric and allopatric breeding sites and further infected at the adult stage. We next measured the infection prevalence and intensity in female mosquitoes using the qPCR assay and correlated the infection success with the mosquito molecular forms. Our results revealed different prevalence of infection between the M and S molecular forms of An. gambiae s.s. in Cameroon, for both sympatric and allopatric populations of mosquitoes. However, no difference in the infection intensity was observed. Thus, the distribution of the molecular forms of An. gambiae s.s. may impact on the malaria epidemiology, and it will be important to monitor the efficiency of malaria control interventions on the two M and S forms.
PMCID: PMC3551906  PMID: 23349974
6.  Behavioural responses of Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto M and S molecular form larvae to an aquatic predator in Burkina Faso 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:65.
Predation of aquatic immature stages has been identified as a major evolutionary force driving habitat segregation and niche partitioning in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto in the humid savannahs of Burkina Faso, West Africa. Here, we explored behavioural responses to the presence of a predator in wild populations of the M and S molecular forms of An. gambiae that typically breed in permanent (e.g., rice field paddies) and temporary (e.g., road ruts) water collections.
Larvae used in these experiments were obtained from eggs laid by wild female An. gambiae collected from two localities in south-western Burkina Faso during the 2008 rainy season. Single larvae were observed in an experimental arena, and behavioural traits were recorded and quantified a) in the absence of a predator and b) in the presence of a widespread mosquito predator, the backswimmer Anisops jaczewskii. Differences in the proportion of time allocated to each behaviour were assessed using Principal Component Analysis and Multivariate Analysis of Variance.
The behaviour of M and S form larvae was found to differ significantly; although both forms mainly foraged at the water surface, spending 60-90% of their time filtering water at the surface or along the wall of the container, M form larvae spent on average significantly more time browsing at the bottom of the container than S form larvae (4.5 vs. 1.3% of their overall time, respectively; P < 0.05). In the presence of a predator, larvae of both forms modified their behaviour, spending significantly more time resting along the container wall (P < 0.001). This change in behaviour was at least twice as great in the M form (from 38.6 to 66.6% of the time at the wall in the absence and presence of the predator, respectively) than in the S form (from 48.3 to 64.1%). Thrashing at the water surface exposed larvae to a significantly greater risk of predation by the notonectid (P < 0.01), whereas predation occurred significantly less often when larvae were at the container wall (P < 0.05) and might reflect predator vigilance.
Behavioural differences between larvae of the M and S form of An. gambiae in response to an acute predation risk is likely to be a reflection of different trade-offs between foraging and predator vigilance that might be of adaptive value in contrasting aquatic ecosystems. Future studies should explore the relevance of these findings under the wide range of natural settings where both forms co-exist in Africa.
PMCID: PMC3352179  PMID: 22463735
7.  A behavioral mechanism underlying ecological divergence in the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae 
Behavioral Ecology  2010;21(5):1087-1092.
Disruptive selection mediated by predation on aquatic immature stages has been proposed as a major force driving ecological divergence and fostering speciation between the M and S molecular forms of the African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae. In the dry savannahs of West Africa where both molecular forms co-occur, the S form thrives in temporary pools filled with rainwater, whereas the M form preferentially breeds in permanent freshwater habitats where predator pressure is higher. Here, we explored the proximal mechanisms by which predation may contribute to habitat segregation between molecular forms using progeny of female mosquitoes captured in Burkina Faso. We show that the S form suffers higher predation rates than the M form when simultaneously exposed to the widespread predator, Anisops jaczewskii in an experimental arena. Furthermore, behavioral plasticity induced by exposure to the predator was observed in the M form, but not in the S form, and may partially explain its habitat use and ecological divergence from the S form. We discuss the role of adaptive phenotypic plasticity in allowing successful colonization of a new ecological niche by the M form and highlight further research areas that need to be addressed for a better understanding of the ultimate mechanisms underlying ecological speciation in this pest of major medical importance.
PMCID: PMC2920295  PMID: 22476108
adaptation; Anopheles gambiae; behavior; habitat divergence; mosquito; notonectidae; phenotypic plasticity, predation; speciation

Results 1-7 (7)