We are currently working on the interaction between Plasmodium relictum (the aetiological agent of the most prevalent form of avian malaria) and its natural vector, the mosquito Culex pipiens, both of which are present in the Montpellier area. Avian malaria has historically played an important role as models in the study of human malaria (click here for a historical account), and for good reason: they share a distant common ancestor, have a very similar life cycle and allow experimenters to overcome many of the obstacles associated with working with humans.
Insecticide resistance and malaria transmission :
Mosquito control through the use of insecticides is still the most important component of malaria control programs. Insecticide resistance jeopardizes disease control efforts by increasing the number of mosquitoes that survive the insecticide treatment and are available to spread the parasite in the population. Although this quantitative effect of insecticide resistance on the mosquitoes may be mitigated by the costs associated to insecticide resistance, it has been deemed sufficiently worrying to motivate the development of resistance management strategies to prevent or retard the spread of resistance. Little attention has however been given to the potential qualitative effects of insecticide resistance on the mosquitoes: are insecticide resistant mosquitoes better, equal or worse vectors of diseases than susceptible ones?
Rivero A, Vézilier J, Weill M, Read AF, Gandon S (2010) Insecticide control of vector borne diseases: when is insecticide resistance a problem? PLoS Pathogens 6(8): e1001000.
Plasmodium-Wolbachia interactions in the mosquito :
In recent years there has been a shift in the one host-one parasite paradigm with the realisation that, in the field, hosts are usually co-infected with multiple parasites. Within a host, parasites may compete or cooperate with each other. Either way, the presence of several parasites within a host has both evolutionary and epidemiological implications that can drastically alter the outcome of infections
Endosymbiotic bacteria like Wolbachia are of special interest for understanding the role of coinfections in the outcome of parasite infections in mosquitoes. Culex pipiens mosquitoes are naturally infected by different Wolbachia pipientis strains. We are investigating whether Wolbachia infections modulate the outcome of Plasmodium infections in msoquitoes.