Evolutionary, Ecological and Population Genomics of Anopheles mosquitoes
About 800,000 people, mainly children under five, die each year from malaria. Of these deaths, 91% are in Africa. While the currently available tools to combat malaria—mainly long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets, insecticide spraying of interior walls and artimisinin-based combination therapy—are substantially reducing malaria cases and deaths, this public health success is fragile due to the threat of resistance. Moreover, even in the absence of resistance, there is no evidence that existing tools can interrupt intense and stable malaria transmission, a situation that applies in many parts of Africa. In such regions, malaria elimination will require additional novel tools. A pathway toward their development is the application of genomic technologies to deepen our understanding of the relationship between malaria-transmitting mosquitoes and their biotic and abiotic environments. Implementation and management of control tools—whether old or new—will benefit from an improved understanding of the breeding structure of natural populations.
Guided by this framework, ongoing research in my laboratory centers on the evolutionary, ecological and population genomics of Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria. In particular, we study those species responsible for the majority of malaria cases and deaths on the African continent.