Multidisciplinary Center for Infectious Diseases (MCID)

The evolution of senescence and insecticide resistance in vector populations

Applicant: Prof. Dr. Deborah Stroka (Cluster: Neglected Diseases)

University of Bern Department of Biomedical Research (DBMR) and University Clinic of Visceral Surgery and Medicine

Vector borne parasites are estimated to be responsible for more than 17% of infectious diseases and their control is therefore a public health priority, particularly in the global south. Although insecticides are an important tool for controlling malaria, as well as emerging vector borne pathogens, their widespread use has led to the evolution of resistance in mosquito populations. Our mechanistic understanding of how the evolution of insecticide resistance influences epidemiological relevant traits such as mosquito lifespan (which must be long enough for parasite development) is still incomplete. We suggest that incorporating ideas from cellular senescence, specifically oxidative stress due to resource use in mosquitoes, into malaria transmission models could improve our understanding of the concomitant evolution of insecticide resistance and senescence, and therefore malaria transmission. We propose to develop general theory about how parasites drive the evolution of senescence in their vectors, and then extend this to insecticide resistance and malaria transmission. To validate model assumptions regarding sources of oxidative stress in mosquitos, we would use Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes and Plasmodium berghei. This proposal would therefore examine the mechanisms by which senescence evolves and then apply this to understanding when insecticide resistance would undermine efforts to control malaria transmission.