Mark-release-recapture experiment in Burkina Faso demonstrates reduced fitness and dispersal of genetically-modified sterile malaria mosquitoes

F. A. Yao, A.-A. Millogo, P. S. Epopa, A. North, F. Noulin, K. Dao, M. Drabo, C. Guissou, S. Kekele, M. Namountougou, R. K. Ouedraogo, L. Pare, N. Barry, R. Sanou, H. Wandaogo, R. K. Dabire, A. McKemey, F. Tripet and A. Diabaté,  Nature Communications,  13:796. 2022.

Every year, malaria kills approximately 405,000 people in Sub-Saharan Africa, most of them children under the age of five years. In many countries, progress in malaria control has been threatened by the rapid spread of resistance to antimalarial drugs and insecticides. Novel genetic mosquito control approaches could play an important role in future integrated malaria control strategies. In July 2019, the Target Malaria consortium proceeded with the first release of hemizygous genetically-modified (GM) sterile and non-transgenic sibling males of the malaria mosquito Anopheles coluzzii in Burkina Faso.

This study aimed to determine the potential fitness cost associated to the transgene and gather important information related to the dynamic of transgene-carrying mosquitoes, crucial for next development steps. Bayesian estimations confirmed that GM males had lower survival and were less mobile than their wild type (WT) siblings. The estimated male population size in Bana village, at the time of the release was 28,000 – 37,000. These results provide unique information about the fitness and behaviour of released GM males that will inform future releases of more effective strains of the A. gambiae complex.


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