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Adv Exp Med Biol. 2008;627:126-40. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-78225-6_11.

Modifying insect population age structure to control vector-borne disease.

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School of Integrative Biology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.


Age is a critical determinant of the ability of most arthropod vectors to transmit a range of human pathogens. This is due to the fact that most pathogens require a period of extrinsic incubation in the arthropod host before pathogen transmission can occur. This developmental period for the pathogen often comprises a significant proportion of the expected lifespan of the vector. As such, only a small proportion of the population that is oldest contributes to pathogen transmission. Given this, strategies that target vector age would be expected to obtain the most significant reductions in the capacity of a vector population to transmit disease. The recent identification of biological agents that shorten vector lifespan, such as Wolbachia, entomopathogenic fungi and densoviruses, offer new tools for the control of vector-borne diseases. Evaluation of the efficacy of these strategies under field conditions will be possible due to recent advances in insect age-grading techniques. Implementation of all of these strategies will require extensive field evaluation and consideration of the selective pressures that reductions in vector longevity may induce on both vector and pathogen.

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