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Proc Biol Sci. 2019 Jul 24;286(1907):20191091. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.1091. Epub 2019 Jul 17.

Mosquitoes cloak their legs to resist insecticides.

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Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Heraklion 70013, Greece.
Department of Biology, University of Crete, Vassilika Vouton, Heraklion 70013, Greece.
Laboratory of Biological Chemistry, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Functional Proteomics and Systems Biology (FunPATh), Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Innovation (CIRI-AUTH), Balkan Center, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Instituto de Investigaciones Bioquímicas de La Plata, Centro Científico Tecnológico La Plata, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas-Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, La Plata 1900, Argentina.
Pesticide Science Laboratory, Department of Crop Science, Agricultural University of Athens, 11855 Athens, Greece.
Department of Vector Biology, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool L3 5QA, UK.


Malaria incidence has halved since the year 2000, with 80% of the reduction attributable to the use of insecticides. However, insecticide resistance is now widespread, is rapidly increasing in spectrum and intensity across Africa, and may be contributing to the increase of malaria incidence in 2018. The role of detoxification enzymes and target site mutations has been documented in the major malaria vector Anopheles gambiae; however, the emergence of striking resistant phenotypes suggests the occurrence of additional mechanisms. By comparing legs, the most relevant insect tissue for insecticide uptake, we show that resistant mosquitoes largely remodel their leg cuticles via enhanced deposition of cuticular proteins and chitin, corroborating a leg-thickening phenotype. Moreover, we show that resistant female mosquitoes seal their leg cuticles with higher total and different relative amounts of cuticular hydrocarbons, compared with susceptible ones. The structural and functional alterations in Anopheles female mosquito legs are associated with a reduced uptake of insecticides, substantially contributing to the resistance phenotype.


cuticle alterations; insecticide resistance; legs

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