Professor USM Research Papers on Medically Important Mosquitoes

Tue 06/28/2022 – 09:26 | By: Ivonne Kawas

A recently published research paper from the laboratory of Dr. Don Yee at the School of Biological, Environmental and Earth Sciences (BEES) at the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) documents for the first time how many mosquitoes are medically important in the world.

The exact number of mosquito species relevant to human health is unknown, posing challenges in understanding the scope and extent of vector-pathogen relationships, and the extent to which mosquito vector-pathogen networks are resistant to the disease. targeted vector eradication. Therefore, Dr. Yee and his students embarked on an extensive study of the literature to document the medically important mosquitoes in the article titled: “Robust network stability of mosquitoes and medically important human pathogens.”

“To date, no scientific investigation has been conducted to enumerate mosquito species implicated in the spread of human pathogens that cause disease,” said Dr Don Yee. “We performed an extensive literature review to determine associations between mosquito species and their associated pathogens of human medical importance.”

When Dr. Yee’s team performed this investigation, for each vector-pathogen association, they determined the strength of the associations (i.e., natural infection, laboratory infection, laboratory dissemination, laboratory transmission, vector known). Network analysis was used to identify relationships between all pathogens and vectors. Finally, they examined how eliminating random or targeted species affected pathogen extinction.

In their results, they found that 88 of 3,578 species of mosquitoes (2.5%) are known vectors of 78 pathogens responsible for human disease; however, an additional 243 species (6.8%) were identified as potential or probable vectors, bringing the total of all mosquitoes implicated in human disease to 331 (9.3%). Network analysis revealed that known vectors and pathogens were compartmentalized, with the removal of six vectors being sufficient to break the network (i.e. cause a pathogen to have no vector ). However, the presence of potential or probable vectors greatly increased redundancies in the network, requiring the elimination of more than 41 vectors before breaking the network.

“For the first time, we have determined how many mosquito species are important to human health, as well as the strength of associations between pathogens and mosquitoes,” said Dr Yee. “We found that less than 10% of all mosquito species are important in human disease, but the associations between mosquitoes and pathogens are strong, making pathogen elimination extremely difficult through simple control. This work also suggests that we still have a long way to go to fully understand all mosquito species that are relevant to human health.

Parasites & Vectors is an open-access, peer-reviewed online journal dealing with the biology of parasites, parasitic diseases, intermediate hosts, vectors, and vector-borne pathogens.

To learn more about Dr. Yee and his research, visit his USM Professor profile. To read this article, visit Parasites & Vectors magazine.

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