TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2016

Genome of yellow fever-carrying mosquitoes mapped

Half the genome of the Aedes agypti mosquito, the main carrier of dengue fever and yellow fever, was recently mapped by entomologists from Virginia Tech.

The map allows researchers to compare the organization and evolution of chromosomes between the Aedes mosquito and the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, which is the major carrier of malaria.

"Despite looking somewhat similar, these mosquitoes diverged from each other about 150 million years ago," Maria Sharakhova, the principal investigator of the study, said. "So, they are genetically further apart than humans and elephants."

The genome of the malaria mosquito features differentiations not seen in the yellow fever mosquito. The two also have differences in sex discrimination, with X and Y chromosomes determining sex in the malaria mosquito, whereas the yellow fever mosquito has sex determined by a small location on chromosome 1.

Exploration in this area can help prevent the spread of the disease, as only female mosquitoes bite and transmit infectious diseases into humans.

"The physical genome map developed in this study will guide efforts to significantly improve the genome assembly for the yellow fever mosquito and will facilitate more advanced studies of the genome organization and chromosome evolution in mosquitoes," Igor Sharakhov, a co-author on the paper, said.