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Molecular entomology and prospects for malaria control

Keywords: Anopheles , molecular entomology , drug resistance/genetics , genetic techniques , research trends , review literature

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During the past decade, the techniques of molecular and cell biology have been embraced by many scientists doing research on anopheline vectors of malaria parasites. Some of the most important research advances in molecular entomology have concerned the development of sophisticated molecular tools for procedures such as genetic and physical mapping and germ line transformation. Major advances have also been made in the study of specific biological processes such as insect defence against pathogens and the manner in which malaria parasites and their anopheline hosts interact during sporogony. One of the most important highlights of this research trend has been the emergence during the past year of a formal international Anopheles gambiae genome project, which at present includes investigators in several laboratories in Europe and the USA. Although much of this molecular research is directed towards the development of malaria control strategies that are probably many years from implementation, there are some important areas of molecular entomology that may have a more near-term impact on malaria control. We highlight developments over the past decade in three such areas that we believe can make important contributions to the development of near-term malaria control strategies. These areas are anopheline species identification, the detection and monitoring of insecticide susceptibility/resistance in wild anopheline populations and the determination of the genetic structure of anopheline populations.


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