1st October 2010 - The Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito poses a significant threat to human health as a blood-sucking transmitter of elephantiasis-causing worms and encephalitis-inducing viruses. An international team of scientists, including researchers from the University of Geneva and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics sequenced its genome and studied its responses to pathogen infections. Two articles published in today's issue of Science, describe results from comparing the Culex mosquito with the malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, and the dengue mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which offer new insights into the elimination of insect-transmitted diseases that seriously impact on global public health.
Mosquitoes are the most important disease-vectors. Species of Culex, Aedes, and Anopheles mosquitoes are responsible for the transmission of many human pathogens including parasites that cause malaria, viruses that trigger dengue and yellow fever, and West Nile encephalitis, as well as worms that cause lymphatic filariasis (also called elephantiasis). The capacity of different mosquito species to transmit these and other pathogens varies greatly, and much of this variation can be attributed to the mosquito immune system's ability to recognise and eliminate the pathogen. Applying their expertise in comparative evolutionary genomic analyses and insect immunity, Professor Evgeny Zdobnov and Dr Robert Waterhouse, from the University of Geneva Medical School and the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, joined forces with scientists from around the world to examine the Culex genome and its encoded genes.
Sequencing of the Culex genome, directed by Peter Atkinson and Peter Arensburger from the University of California Riverside, allowed researchers to perform a thorough comparison among the three disease-vector mosquito species. Focusing on the mosquito immune system, researchers led
|Contact: Irene Perovsek|
Swiss Institute of Bioinoformatics