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Podcast: Wolbachia can control Anopheles malaria mosquito via ‘cytoplasmic incompatibility’

December 22, 2021 - 15:38 -- Johns Hopkins

Podcast #8 | 24 December 2021: Research on the Wolbachia bacteria is applied to the malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquito, with exciting implications for vector control.


New tools are needed to control the Anopheles mosquito, the vector of malaria. Bacteria called Wolbachia might be the answer. Although Aedes mosquitoes do not naturally carry Wolbachia, when the bacteria were introduced from other sources, they could no longer transmit pathogenic viruses, like dengue. Harnessing this technology to control vector populations is now being applied to the malaria-transmitting Anopheles mosquito. New research has shown that ‘cytoplasmic incompatibility’ [CI] can be induced in Anopheles by expressing the Wolbachia cifB gene in male mosquitoes, and that this lethality can be reversed by expression of the cifA gene. In other words, when male mosquitoes mate with females that do not carry the bacteria, they cannot produce offspring. Knowing this will help pave the way for the use of Wolbachia to control malaria mosquitoes in the field.