Anne Boissière 1 , Majoline T. Tchioffo 1 , 2 , Dipankar Bachar 3 , Luc Abate 1 , Alexandra Marie 1 , Sandrine E. Nsango 1 , 2 , 4 , Hamid R. Shahbazkia 3 , 5 , Parfait H. Awono-Ambene 2 , Elena A. Levashina 4 , Richard Christen 3 , Isabelle Morlais 1 , 2 , *
31 May 2012
The susceptibility of Anopheles mosquitoes to Plasmodium infections relies on complex interactions between the insect vector and the malaria parasite. A number of studies have shown that the mosquito innate immune responses play an important role in controlling the malaria infection and that the strength of parasite clearance is under genetic control, but little is known about the influence of environmental factors on the transmission success. We present here evidence that the composition of the vector gut microbiota is one of the major components that determine the outcome of mosquito infections. A. gambiae mosquitoes collected in natural breeding sites from Cameroon were experimentally challenged with a wild P. falciparum isolate, and their gut bacterial content was submitted for pyrosequencing analysis. The meta-taxogenomic approach revealed a broader richness of the midgut bacterial flora than previously described. Unexpectedly, the majority of bacterial species were found in only a small proportion of mosquitoes, and only 20 genera were shared by 80% of individuals. We show that observed differences in gut bacterial flora of adult mosquitoes is a result of breeding in distinct sites, suggesting that the native aquatic source where larvae were grown determines the composition of the midgut microbiota. Importantly, the abundance of Enterobacteriaceae in the mosquito midgut correlates significantly with the Plasmodium infection status. This striking relationship highlights the role of natural gut environment in parasite transmission. Deciphering microbe-pathogen interactions offers new perspectives to control disease transmission.
During their development in the mosquito vector, Plasmodium parasites undergo complex developmental steps and incur severe bottlenecks. The largest parasite losses occur in the mosquito midgut where robust immune responses are activated. Variability in P. falciparum infection levels indicates that parasite transmission is the result of complex interactions between vectors and parasites, which rely on both genetic and environmental factors. However, in contrast to genetically encoded factors, the role of environmental factors in parasite transmission has received little attention. In this study, we characterized the midgut microbiota of mosquitoes derived from diverse breeding sites using pyrosequencing. We show that the composition of the midgut microbiota in adult mosquitoes exhibits great variability, which is likely determined by bacterial richness of the larval habitats. When field mosquitoes were collected at late immature stages in natural breeding sites and the emerging females challenged with Plasmodium falciparum in the laboratory, significant correlation was observed between P. falciparum infection and the presence of Enterobacteriaceae in the mosquito midgut. Greater understanding of these malaria-bacteria interactions may lead to novel malaria control strategies.