Malaria is caused when female Anopheles mosquitoes are infected with the Plasmodium parasite and infect healthy humans. Mosquitoes pick up the parasite when they bite and feed on infected humans. For this study, Dimopoulos and his team isolated Penicillium chrysogenum fungus from the gut of field-caught Anopheles mosquitoes. They determined that its presence made the mosquitoes much more susceptible to being infected by the parasite that causes malaria. The fungus, they found, was compromising the immune system of the mosquitoes, allowing the malaria parasite to more easily infect them. Dimopoulos says research in the field is necessary to see if the fungi affect mosquitoes in the same way in nature as they do in the laboratory.
- Yesseinia I. Angleró-Rodríguez, Benjamin J. Blumberg, Yuemei Dong, Simone L. Sandiford, Andrew Pike, April M. Clayton, George Dimopoulos. A natural Anopheles-associated Penicillium chrysogenum enhances mosquito susceptibility to Plasmodium infection.Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 34084 DOI: 10.1038/srep34084