Malaria transmission in sub-Saharan Africa varies seasonally in intensity. Outbreaks of malaria occur after the beginning of the rainy season, whereas, during the dry season, reports of the disease are less frequent. Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main malaria vector, are observed all year long but their densities are low during the dry season that generally lasts several months. Aestivation, seasonal migration, and local adaptation have been suggested as mechanisms that enable mosquito populations to persist through the dry season. Studies of chromosomal inversions have shown that inversions 2La, 2Rb, 2Rc, 2Rd, and 2Ru are associated with various physiological changes that confer aridity resistance. However, little is known about how phenotypic plasticity responds to seasonally dry conditions. This study examined the effects of desiccation stress on transcriptional regulation in An. gambiae. We exposed female An. gambiae G3 mosquitoes to acute desiccation and conducted a genome-wide analysis of their transcriptomes using the Affymetrix Plasmodium/Anopheles Genome Array. The transcription of 248 genes (1.7% of all transcripts) was significantly affected in all experimental conditions, including 96 with increased expression and 152 with decreased expression. In general, the data indicate a reduction in the metabolic rate of mosquitoes exposed to desiccation. Transcripts accumulated at higher levels during desiccation are associated with oxygen radical detoxification, DNA repair and stress responses. The proportion of transcripts within 2La and 2Rs (2Rb, 2Rc, 2Rd, and 2Ru) (67/248, or 27%) is similar to the percentage of transcripts located within these inversions (31%). These data may be useful in efforts to elucidate the role of chromosomal inversions in aridity tolerance. The scope of application of the anopheline genome demonstrates that examining transcriptional activity in relation to genotypic adaptations greatly expands the number of candidate regions involved in the desiccation response in this important malaria vector.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)