Horizontal transmission of the symbiont Microsporidia MB in Anopheles arabiensis

Godfrey Nattoh, Tracy Maina, Edward Edmond Makhulu, Lilian Mbaisi, Enock Mararo, Fidel G. Otieno, Tullu Bukhari, Thomas Onchuru, Evan Teal, Juan Paredesan , David M. Mburu, Everline A. Onyango, Gabriel Magoma, Steven P Sinkins, Jeremy Keith Herren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The recently discovered Anopheles symbiont, Microsporidia MB, has a strong malaria transmission-blocking phenotype in Anopheles arabiensis, the predominant Anopheles gambiae species complex member in many active transmission areas in eastern Africa.
The ability of Microsporidia MB to block Plasmodium transmission together with vertical transmission and avirulence makes it a candidate for the development of a symbiontbased malaria transmission blocking strategy. We investigate the characteristics and efficiencies of Microsporidia MB transmission between An. arabiensis mosquitoes.
We show that Microsporidia MB is not transmitted between larvae but is effectively
transmitted horizontally between adult mosquitoes. Notably, Microsporidia MB was only
found to be transmitted between male and female An. arabiensis, suggesting sexual
horizontal transmission. In addition, Microsporidia MB cells were observed infecting the An. arabiensis ejaculatory duct. Female An. arabiensis that acquire Microsporidia MB horizontally are able to transmit the symbiont vertically to their offspring. We also investigate the possibility that Microsporidia MB can infect alternate hosts that live in the same habitats as their An. arabiensis hosts, but find no other non-anopheline hosts. Notably, Microsporidia MB infections were found in another primary malaria
African vector, Anopheles funestus s.s. The finding that Microsporidia MB can be
transmitted horizontally is relevant for the development of dissemination strategies to control malaria that are based on the targeted release of Microsporidia MB infected Anopheles mosquitoes
Original languageEnglish
Article number647183
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2021


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