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Detailed genome of the malaria mosquito vector

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    24th Feb, 2021

In a latest development, scientists have unveiled the detailed genome of the malaria mosquito vector, revealing thousands of new genes vital for the development of genetic control strategies of disease transmission.

Context

In a latest development, scientists have unveiled the detailed genome of the malaria mosquito vector, revealing thousands of new genes vital for the development of genetic control strategies of disease transmission.

About

Key-highlights of the findings

  • The detailed genome of the malaria mosquito vector, revealed thousands of new genes vital for the development of genetic control strategies of disease transmission.
  • Scientists produced a new reference genome for the Asian malaria vector mosquito Anopheles stephensi.
    • 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.
  • The newly revealed genes play key roles in blood feeding and the metabolism of ingested blood meal, reproduction and immunity against microbial parasites.
  • The findings include 29 previously undetected genes that play critical roles in resistance to chemical insecticides, an advancement that lends itself to the necessity of addressing growing African and Asian An. stephensi populations with insecticide-resistant mutations. 
  • The new genome assembly is a comprehensive and accurate map of genomic functional elements and will serve as a foundation for the new age of active genetics in An. Stephensi.

Genome

  • A genome is all genetic material of an organism. It consists of DNA (or RNA in RNA viruses).
  • The genome includes both the genes (the coding regions) and the noncoding DNA, as well as mitochondrial DNA and chloroplast DNA.
  • The study of the genome is called

The need

  • Mosquito-transmitted malaria is the leading global killer among vector-borne diseases, claiming over 400,000 human lives in 2019.
  • In order to engineer advanced forms of defence against malaria transmission, including targeted CRISPR and gene drive-based strategies, scientists require intricate knowledge of the genomes of vector mosquitoes.
    • CRISPR technology is a gene editing tool which allows researchers to easily alter DNA sequences and modify gene function.

Malaria in India

  • Malaria is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by parasites (Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium malariae and Plasmodium ovale) that are transmitted through the bite of infected female Anopheles mosquitoes.
  • According to the World Malaria Report 2019, India represents 3% of the global malaria burden.

Significance of the development

  • The development can help address the growing Asian and African  stephensi populations with insecticide-resistant mutations.
  • The findings also offer clues suggesting that the molecular basis of insecticide resistance may differ between sexes.
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