Scientists at LSTM have played an important role in an international research project which has successfully sequenced the genome of the Culex mosquito, which transmits West Nile virus, encephalitis and lymphatic filariasis.
The work, published in two papers in Science (1 October) was led by researchers at the University of California (Riverside) and Boston College, Massachusetts. The first paper outlines the properties of the Culex genome and the second complimentary study looks at genes involved in pathogen transmission. LSTM scientists played an important role in both projects by identifying genes likely to be responsible for insecticide resistance and by preparing and testing DNA samples from infected and uninfected mosquitoes for sequencing.
Further study of the genetic information will yield more information which could be used to target specific genes in the mosquito which are responsible for transmitting human disease.
The genomes of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, which transmits malaria, and the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which transmits dengue and yellow fever, were published in 2002 and 2007 respectively, with scientists from LSTM again playing significant roles in deciphering the genes in these species.
LSTM’s Dr Hilary Ranson, a co-author of one of the papers, explained: “The sequencing of Culex quinquefasciatusgenome means that we now have entire genome sequences of the three groups of mosquitoes which transmit human diseases. This will help us to identify traits that are unique to each vector and that might be related to the ability of specific mosquitoes to transmit different pathogens. Conversely, we can also identify pathways or processes that are conserved across mosquitoes but not found in other beneficial insects that could then be targeted in novel mosquito control strategies.”
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Notes to Editors
The Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) has been engaged in the fight against infectious, debilitating and disabling diseases for more than a hundred years and continues that tradition today with a research portfolio in excess of £159 million and a teaching programme attracting students from over 70 countries.