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Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2005;295:383-415.

Molecular genetics of mosquito resistance to malaria parasites.

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Department of Microbiology, Center for Microbial and Plant Genomics, University of Minnesota, 1500 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.


Malaria parasites are transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito, but even efficient vector species possess multiple mechanisms that together destroy most of the parasites present in an infection. Variation between individual mosquitoes has allowed genetic analysis and mapping of loci controlling several resistance traits, and the underlying mechanisms of mosquito response to infection are being described using genomic tools such as transcriptional and proteomic analysis. Malaria infection imposes fitness costs on the vector, but various forms of resistance inflict their own costs, likely leading to an evolutionary tradeoff between infection and resistance. Plasmodium development can be successfully completed onlyin compatible mosquito-parasite species combinations, and resistance also appears to have parasite specificity. Studies of Drosophila, where genetic variation in immunocompetence is pervasive in wild populations, offer a comparative context for understanding coevolution of the mosquito-malaria relationship. More broadly, plants also possess systems of pathogen resistance with features that are structurally conserved in animal innate immunity, including insects, and genomic datasets now permit useful comparisons of resistance models even between such diverse organisms.

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