MGSurvE: A framework to optimize trap placement for genetic surveillance of mosquito population

C. H. Sánchez, D. L. Smith and J. M. Marshall,  bioRxiv,  2023.

Genetic surveillance of mosquito populations is becoming increasingly relevant as genetics-based mosquito control strategies advance from laboratory to field testing. Especially applicable are mosquito gene drive projects, the potential scale of which leads monitoring to be a significant cost driver. For these projects, monitoring will be required to detect unintended spread of gene drive mosquitoes beyond field sites, and the emergence of alternative alleles, such as drive-resistant alleles or non-functional effector genes, within intervention sites. This entails the need to distribute mosquito traps efficiently such that an allele of interest is detected as quickly as possible – ideally when remediation is still viable. Additionally, insecticide-based tools such as bednets are compromised by insecticide-resistance alleles for which there is also a need to detect as quickly as possible. To this end, we present MGSurvE (Mosquito Gene SurveillancE): a computational framework that optimizes trap placement for genetic surveillance of mosquito populations such that the time to detection of an allele of interest is minimized. A key strength of MGSurvE is that it allows important biological features of mosquitoes and the landscapes they inhabit to be accounted for, namely: i) resources required by mosquitoes (e.g., food sources and aquatic breeding sites) can be explicitly distributed through a landscape, ii) movement of mosquitoes may depend on their sex, the current state of their gonotrophic cycle (if female) and resource attractiveness, and iii) traps may differ in their attractiveness profile. Example MGSurvE analyses are presented to demonstrate optimal trap placement for: i) an Aedes aegypti population in a suburban landscape in Queensland, Australia, and ii)an Anopheles gambiae population on the island of São Tomé, São Tomé and Príncipe. Further documentation and use examples are provided in project’s documentation. MGSurvE is freely available as an open-source Python package on pypi ( ). It is intended as a resource for both field and computational researchers interested in mosquito gene surveillance. AUTHOR SUMMARY: Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever continue to pose a major health burden throughout much of the world. The impact of currently-available tools, such as insecticides and antimalarial drugs, is stagnating, and gene drive-modified mosquitoes are considered a novel tool that could contribute to continuing reductions in disease transmission. Gene drive approaches are unique in the field of vector control in that they involve transgenes that could potentially spread on a wide scale, and consequently, surveillance is expected to be a major cost driver for the technology. This is needed to monitor for unintended spread of intact drive alleles, and the emergence of alternative alleles such as homing-resistance alleles and non-functional effector genes. Additionally, surveillance of insecticide-resistance alleles is of interest to support the impact of insecticide-based tools such as bednets. Here, we present MGSurvE, a computational framework that optimizes trap placement for genetic surveillance of mosquito populations in order to minimize the time to detection for an allele of interest. MGSurvE has been tailored to various features of mosquito ecology, and is intended as a resource for researchers to optimize the efficiency of limited surveillance resources.

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