Division of Cell & Molecular Biology
Medical and Veterinary Entomologist
Refractoriness in anopheline mosquitoes against Plasmodium parasites are ancestral virtues. My current research at Imperial College London, involves dissecting genetic causes of refractory mechanism in the cryptic species of An. gambiae complex - Afrotropical mosquitoes consisting malaria vector and non-vector species. I conduct genetic selection of refractory and susceptible lines of mosquitoes, and perform genetic crosses between diriment lines to understand the inheritance of refractory traits. I use microarray/SNP array technology to scan chromosomal region carrying genes conferring refractoriness, and use RNAi technology and proteomic techniques for functional analysis of candidate genes, e.g. depleting of peritrophic membrane genes to see their effect on midgut invasion by Plasmodium parasite. I also conduct studies on the role of midgut microbiota on the Plasmodium invasion and their success to develop into oocysts in susceptible and refractory mosquito species. My research involves the colonization and maintenance of mosquito colonies and infection of female Anopheles with laboratory model rodent malaria parasites (P. berghei) or human malaria parasites (P. falciparum). In the past, I studied interactions between malaria-vectors, humans and livestock in a rural Africa with the aim of developing insecticide treated cattle for integrated vector control interventions applicable to humans and livestock. In the future, I would like to explore the possibilities of using midgut microbiota as vehicles to deliver dsRNA of targeted gene/s as a novel tool to control medically or economically important insects.