CNRS URA3012: Hosts, Vectors and Infectious Agents
28 rue du Docteur Roux
75015 Paris, FRANCE
We study the transmission of malaria by the mosquito vector. Malaria, caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium, is one of the major global infectious diseases. More than 40% of the world population is at risk. Approximately 2 million children die from malaria per year and hundreds of millions of others are sickened by the disease. In addition to the human cost, the economic impact of malaria is also enormous. It is estimated that malaria alone reduces African economic productivity by at least 10%, and thus constitutes a major drag on economic development.
Malaria parasites are transmitted by mosquito vectors in a durable and widespread disease transmission system. As the infected mosquito bites, it injects malaria parasites into the blood, thus initiating a new infection. There is no vaccine against malaria, and although drugs can be effective, the malaria parasite rapidly develops resistance. Because the mosquito is an obligatory vector of the malaria parasite, the chain of transmission can be interrupted by measures that target the mosquito vector. Existing vector control tools such as bednets and insecticide spraying are valuable as part of an integrated attack on malaria transmission by mosquitoes, but they probably cannot do the job by themselves.
Using new genomic research tools, it is now possible to directly query natural populations of mosquitoes and parasites in order to identify mechanisms of vector resistance and immunity against malaria parasites. Our research program bridges the field and laboratory by screening natural vector and parasite populations in Africa to identify genetic mechanisms that can be extracted to the laboratory for genomic, genetic and cellular studies aimed towards developing a new generation of malaria control approaches.
Village of Takaledougou in Burkina Faso, West Africa, one of the field sites where the Vernick lab carries out research on malaria transmission in collaboration with scientists at the National Center for Malaria Research and Training (Centre National de Recherche et de Formation sur le Paludisme, Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso).
• Riehle, M.M., Guelbeogo, W.M., Gneme, A., Eiglmeier, K., Holm, I., Bischoff, E., Garnier, T., Snyder, G.M., Li, X., Markianos, K., Sagnon, N., and Vernick, K.D. (2011). A cryptic subgroup of Anopheles gambiae is highly susceptible to human malaria parasites. Science 331, 596-598.
• Rottschaefer, S.M., Riehle, M.M., Coulibaly, B., Sacko, M., Niare, O., Morlais, I., Traore, S.F., Vernick, K.D., and Lazzaro, B.P. (2011). Exceptional diversity, maintenance of polymorphism, and recent directional selection on the APL1 malaria resistance genes of Anopheles gambiae. PLoS Biol 9, e1000600.
• Mitri, C., Jacques, J-C., Thiery, I., Bischoff, E., Xu, X., Riehle, M.M., Morlais, I., Nsango, S.E., Vernick, K.D., and Bourgouin, C. (2009). Fine pathogen discrimination within the APL1 gene family protects Anopheles gambiae against human and rodent malaria species. PLoS Path, 2009 Sep;5(9):e1000576. Epub 2009 Sep 11.
• Riehle, M.M., Markianos, K., Lambrechts, L., Xia, A., Sharakhov, I., Koella, J.C., and Vernick, K.D. (2007). A major genetic locus controlling natural Plasmodium falciparum infection is shared by East and West African Anopheles gambiae. Malar J, 6, 87-93.
• Riehle, M.M., Markianos, K., Niare, O., Xu, J., Li, J., Toure, A.M., Podiougou, B., Oduol, F., Diawara, S., Diallo, M., Coulibaly, B., Ouatara, A., Kruglyak, L., Traore, S.F., and Vernick, K.D. (2006). Natural malaria infection in Anopheles gambiae is regulated by a single genomic control region. Science 312, 577-9.