Delftia tsuruhatensis TC1 symbiont suppresses malaria transmission by anopheline mosquitoes

W. Huang, J. Rodrigues, E. Bilgo, J. R. Tormo, J. D. Challenger, C. De Cozar-Gallardo, I. Pérez-Victoria, F. Reyes, P. Castañeda-Casado, E. J. Gnambani, D. F. d. S. Hien, M. Konkobo, B. Urones, I. Coppens, A. Mendoza-Losana, L. Ballell, A. Diabate, T. S.,  Science,  381:533-540. 2023.

Malaria control demands the development of a wide range of complementary strategies. We describe the properties of a naturally occurring, non?genetically modified symbiotic bacterium, Delftia tsuruhatensis TC1, which was isolated from mosquitoes incapable of sustaining the development of Plasmodium falciparum parasites. D. tsuruhatensis TC1 inhibits early stages of Plasmodium development and subsequent transmission by the Anopheles mosquito through secretion of a small-molecule inhibitor. We have identified this inhibitor to be the hydrophobic molecule harmane. We also found that, on mosquito contact, harmane penetrates the cuticle, inhibiting Plasmodium development. D. tsuruhatensis TC1 stably populates the mosquito gut, does not impose a fitness cost on the mosquito, and inhibits Plasmodium development for the mosquito?s life. Contained field studies in Burkina Faso and modeling showed that D. tsuruhatensis TC1 has the potential to complement mosquito-targeted malaria transmission control. Malaria mosquitoes can act as hosts to several microorganisms, including commensal bacterial species. Huang et al. noticed that some laboratory colonies of anopheline mosquitoes were incapable of transmitting malaria parasites. These insects also harbored a few cells of a bacterium called Delftia tsuruhatensis TC1, which produces a toxic alkaloid called harmane. Bacteria-produced harmane inhibited the development of female Plasmodium parasite gametes in the mosquito gut. Harmane was found to be a contact poison that could also cross the mosquito cuticle to kill developing malaria parasites. Contained field trials in Burkina Faso, coupled with modeling studies, showed that the bacterium has the potential to be deployed in mosquito breeding sites as a component of malaria control. ?Caroline Ash A naturally occurring bacterium of anopheline mosquitoes produces an alkaloid that arrests the development of co-occurring Plasmodium oocytes

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