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Researchers unveil detailed genome of invasive malaria mosquito

Date: 19.2.2021 

Despite the broad notoriety of sharks, snakes, scorpions and other formidable creatures, mosquitoes remain the deadliest animal on the planet… by far. Mosquito-transmitted malaria remains the number one worldwide killer among vector-borne diseases, claiming more than 400,000 human lives in 2019.

Kredit: P.J. Bryant.In order to engineer advanced forms of defense against malaria transmission, including targeted CRISPR and gene drive-based strategies, scientists require intricate knowledge of the genomes of vector mosquitoes.

Mahul Chakraborty – a project scientist at the University of California, Irvine, working with colleagues at the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society (TIGS) at UC San Diego and India, and the Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology in Bangalore, India – has produced a groundbreaking new reference genome for the Asian malaria vector mosquito Anopheles stephensi. Full details of the genome, which the scientists say is now on par with the best animal genomes available to science (humans and fruit flies), are published in the journal BMC Biology.

"Anopheles stephensi is a major malaria vector mosquito in urban areas of South Asia and has recently invaded the horn of Africa. It is predicted to become a major urban malaria vector in Africa, putting 126 million urban Africans at risk," said paper coauthor Ethan Bier, a UC San Diego distinguished professor of cell and developmental biology and science director for TIGS-UC San Diego.





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