Investigation of the seasonal microbiome of Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes in Mali

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The poorly understood mechanisms of dry season persistence of Anopheles spp. mosquitoes through the dry season in Africa remain a critical gap in our knowledge of Plasmodium disease transmission. While it is thought that adult mosquitoes remain in a dormant state throughout this seven-month dry season, the nature of this state remains unknown and has largely not been recapitulated in laboratory settings. To elucidate possible connections of this state with microbial composition, the whole body microbiomes of adult mosquitoes in the dry and wet seasons in two locations of Mali with varying water availability were compared by sequencing the 16S ribosomal RNA gene. These locations were a village near the Niger River with year-round water sources (N’Gabakoro, “riparian”), and a typical Sahelian area with highly seasonal breeding sites (Thierola Area, “Sahelian”). The 16S bacterial data consisted of 2057 sequence variants in 426 genera across 184 families. From these data, we found several compositional differences that were seasonally and spatially linked. Counter to our initial hypothesis, there were more pronounced seasonal differences in the bacterial microbiome of riparian, rather than Sahelian areas. These seasonal shifts were primarily in Ralstonia, Sphingorhabdus, and Duganella spp. bacteria that are usually soil and water-associated, indicating these changes may be from bacteria acquired in the larval environment, rather than adulthood. In Sahelian dry season mosquitoes, there was a unique intracellular bacteria, Anaplasma, which likely was acquired through non-human blood feeding. Cytochrome B analysis of blood meals showed greater heterogeneity in host choice of An. coluzzii independent of season in the Thierola area compared to N’Gabakoro (77.5% vs. 94.6% human-origin blood meal, respectively), indicating a relaxation of anthropophily. Overall, this exploratory study provides valuable indications of spatial and seasonal differences in bacterial composition which help refine this difficult to study state.




Krajacich, B. J., Huestis, D. L., Dao, A., Yaro, A. S., Diallo, M., Krishna, A., … Lehmann, T. (2018). Investigation of the seasonal microbiome of Anopheles coluzzii mosquitoes in Mali. PLoS ONE, 13(3).

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