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Paratransgenesis: a promising new strategy for mosquito vector control

Abstract

The three main mosquito genera, Anopheles, Aedes and Culex, transmit respectively malaria, dengue and lymphatic filariasis. Current mosquito control strategies have proved unsuccessful, and there still is a substantial number of morbidity and mortality from these diseases. Genetic control methods have now arisen as promising alternative strategies, based on two approaches: the replacement of a vector population by disease-refractory mosquitoes and the release of mosquitoes carrying a lethal gene to suppress target populations. However, substantial hurdles and limitations need to be overcome if these methods are to be used successfully, the most significant being that a transgenic mosquito strain is required for every target species, making genetically modified mosquito strategies inviable when there are multiple vector mosquitoes in the same area. Genetically modified bacteria capable of colonizing a wide range of mosquito species may be a solution to this problem and another option for the control of these diseases. In the paratransgenic approach, symbiotic bacteria are genetically modified and reintroduced in mosquitoes, where they express effector molecules. For this approach to be used in practice, however, requires a better understanding of mosquito microbiota and that symbiotic bacteria and effector molecules be identified. Paratransgenesis could prove very useful in mosquito species that are inherently difficult to transform or in sibling species complexes. In this approach, a genetic modified bacteria can act by: (a) causing pathogenic effects in the host; (b) interfering with the host's reproduction; (c) reducing the vector's competence; and (d) interfering with oogenesis and embryogenesis. It is a much more flexible and adaptable approach than the use of genetic modified mosquitoes because effector molecules and symbiotic bacteria can be replaced by if they do not achieve the desired result. Paratransgenesis may therefore become an important integrated pest management tool for mosquito control. (AU)