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Plasticity of host selection by malaria vectors of Papua New Guinea

Keven, John B, Reimer, Lisa ORCID:, Katusele, Michelle, Koimbu, Gussy, Vinit, Rebecca, Vincent, Naomi, Thomsen, Edward ORCID:, Foran, David R, Zimmerman, Peter A and Walker, Edward D (2017) 'Plasticity of host selection by malaria vectors of Papua New Guinea'. Parasites & Vectors, Vol 10, Issue 95.

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Host selection is an important determinant of vectorial capacity because malaria transmission increases when mosquitoes feed more on humans than non-humans. Host selection also affects the outcome of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLIN). Despite the recent nationwide implementation of LLIN-based malaria control program in Papua New Guinea (PNG), little is known about the host selection of the local Anopheles vectors. This study investigated the host selection of Anopheles vectors in PNG.


Blood-engorged mosquitoes were sampled using the barrier screen method and blood meals analyzed for vertebrate host source with PCR-amplification of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. Abundance of common hosts was estimated in surveys. The test of homogeneity of proportions and the Manly resource selection ratio were used to determine if hosts were selected in proportion to their abundance.


Two thousand four hundred and forty blood fed Anopheles females of seven species were sampled from five villages in Madang, PNG. Of 2,142 samples tested, 2,061 (96.2%) yielded a definitive host source; all were human, pig, or dog. Hosts were not selected in proportion to their abundance, but rather were under-selected or over-selected by the mosquitoes. Four species, Anopheles farauti (sensu stricto) (s.s.), Anopheles punctulatus (s.s.), Anopheles farauti no. 4 and Anopheles longirostris, over-selected humans in villages with low LLIN usage, but over-selected pigs in villages with high LLIN usage. Anopheles koliensis consistently over-selected humans despite high LLIN usage, and Anopheles bancroftii over-selected pigs.


The plasticity of host selection of an Anopheles species depends on its opportunistic, anthropophilic or zoophilic behavior, and on the extent of host availability and LLIN usage where the mosquitoes forage for hosts. The high anthropophily of An. koliensis increases the likelihood of contacting the LLIN inside houses. This allows its population size to be reduced to levels insufficient to support transmission. In contrast, by feeding on alternative hosts the likelihood of the opportunistic species to contact LLIN is lower, making them difficult to control. By maintaining high population size, the proportion that feed on humans outdoors can sustain residual transmission despite high LLIN usage in the village.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: QU Biochemistry > Proteins. Amino Acids. Peptides > QU 58.5 DNA.
QX Parasitology > QX 45 Host-parasite relations
QX Parasitology > Insects. Other Parasites > QX 650 Insect vectors
WC Communicable Diseases > Tropical and Parasitic Diseases > WC 750 Malaria
Faculty: Department: Biological Sciences > Vector Biology Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
Depositing User: Daisy Byrne
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2017 10:24
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2019 08:41


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