Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have identified a fungus that compromises the immune system of mosquitoes, making them more susceptible to infection with the parasite that causes malaria.
Because environmental microorganisms can vary greatly from region to region, the researchers say the findings may help explain variations in the prevalence of malaria in different geographic areas.
Mosquitoes, like humans, are continuously exposed to a variety of microbes in their environment, and these bacteria and fungi can influence the health of mosquitoes in many ways. Malaria researchers have in the past identified microbes that block the Anopheles mosquito from being infected by the parasite that causes malaria, but this is the first time they have found a microorganism that instead appears to make the mosquito more likely to become infected with – and then spread – malaria. The findings are published Sept. 28 in the journal Scientific Reports.