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J Exp Biol. 2018 Mar 21;221(Pt 6). pii: jeb174433. doi: 10.1242/jeb.174433.

Distinct physiological, biochemical and morphometric adjustments in the malaria vectors Anopheles gambiae and A. coluzzii as means to survive dry season conditions in Burkina Faso.

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Université de Rennes 1, UMR CNRS 6553 Ecobio, Campus de Beaulieu, 263 Avenue du General Leclerc, CS 74205 35042 Rennes, Cedex, France
INRA UR370 QuaPA, MASS Group, 63122 Saint-Genès-Champanelle, France.
Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), UMR IRD 224-CNRS 5290-Université de Montpellier 1-Université de Montpellier 2 MIVEGEC, 911 Avenue Agropolis, BP 64501, 34394 Montpellier, Cedex 5, France.
UMR 7618 Institute of Ecology and Environmental Sciences of Paris, Department of Sensory Ecology, Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC), 4 Place Jussieu, Tour 44-45, 3ème étage, 75005 Paris, France.
Université de Rennes 1, UMR CNRS 6552 Ethologie animale et humaine, Campus de Beaulieu, 263 Avenue du General Leclerc, 35042 Rennes, Cedex, France.
Université de Rennes 1, UMR CNRS 6553 Ecobio, Campus de Beaulieu, 263 Avenue du General Leclerc, CS 74205 35042 Rennes, Cedex, France.
Institut Universitaire de France, 1 rue Descartes, 75231 Paris, Cedex 05, France.
Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS), Direction Régionale de l'Ouest (DRO), 399 Avenue de la Liberté, 01 BP 545, Bobo-Dioulasso, Burkina Faso.


Aestivation and dispersive migration are the two strategies evoked in the literature to explain the way in which malaria vectors Anopheles coluzzii and A. gambiae survive the harsh climatic conditions of the dry season in sub-Saharan Africa. However, the physiological mechanisms regulating these two strategies are unknown. In the present study, mosquito species were exposed to controlled environmental conditions mimicking the rainy and dry seasons of south western Burkina Faso. Survival strategies were studied through morphometric (wing length), ecophysiological (respiratory gas exchanges), biochemical (cuticular hydrocarbons composition) and molecular (AKH mRNA expression levels) parameters, variations of which are usually considered to be hallmarks of aestivation and dispersion mechanisms in various insects. Our results showed that ecophysiological and morphometric adjustments are made in both species to prevent water losses during the dry season. However, the usual metabolic rate modifications expected as signatures of aestivation and migration were not observed, highlighting specific and original physiological mechanisms sustaining survival in malaria mosquitoes during the dry season. Differences in epicuticular hydrocarbon composition and AKH levels of expression were found between the permanent and temporary A. coluzzii populations, illustrating the great phenotypic plasticity of this mosquito species. Altogether, our work underlines the diverse and complex pattern of changes occurring in the two mosquito species and at the population level to cope with the dry season and highlights potential targets of future control tools.


Adipokinetic hormone (AKH); Aestivation; Cuticular hydrocarbons; Metabolic rate; Migration


Conflict of interest statement

Competing interestsThe authors declare no competing or financial interests.

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