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Anopheles (Cellia) gambiae

Anopheles (Cellia) gambiae is the major vector of Plasmodium falciparum in Africa and is one of the most efficient malaria vectors in the world. Every year, more than 500 million people become severely ill with malaria, with most cases and deaths occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Europe are also affected.

Anopheles gambiae is strongly anthropophilic species, which means it prefers to feed on humans and so it is more likely to transmit the Plasmodium parasites from one person to another.

The adult females can live up to a month (or more in captivity) but most probably do not live more than 1-2 weeks in nature. Males live for about a week, feeding on nectar and other sources of sugar. The female mates only once and stores sperm for subsequent egg production. Adult females lay 50-200 eggs per oviposition and it takes 2-3 days for eggs to hatch. Larvae develop in wide range of temporary bodies of water and pass three moults before becoming pupae. These mosquitoes can develop from egg to adult in as little as 5 days but usually take 10-14 days in tropical conditions.

Insecticide resistance is now a major problem facing malaria vector control programs in most African countries with all important vector species showing resistance to one or more of the insecticides (benzene hexachloride, pyrethroids) used in vector control. There are over 125 mosquito species with documented resistance to one or more insecticides.

The A. gambiae genome has been sequenced in 2002 and now the researchers estimate that there are around 14,000 genes of Anopheles gambiae available. Identification of the mosquito genes involved in transmission of Plasmodium parasite, resistance to insecticides, the mosquito's olfactory system, its immunity, etc should eventually lead to the development of ways to control the transmission of malaria by this vector.

There is a complex of around six morphologically indistinguishable species very close to Anopheles gambiae and they are called Anopheles gambiae complex.

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