How Microsporidia is Transmitted
We are nearing our goal of understanding how microsporidia can persist in the wild, which will allow us to start creating lab colonies.
Currently we are only able to propagate a strain of microsporidia down two generations, then it seems to disappear from the lineage. We are not entirely sure why this happens, however we think that the male mosquitoes are the culprit for why this happens as we think that the microsporidia is transmitted from the male to the female and then down the lineage. We think this is the case as we have found no indication of environmental influence on microsporidia, and that we have some preliminary results showing that male mosquitoes may transfer the microbe to females.
Why Microsporidia Impedes Plasmodium transmission
Microsporidia’s plasmodium blocking abilities are phenomenal, and while it is our top priority to figure out how it is propagated so we can harness it’s abilities, we also want to specifically know how it works. We have a hunch that it has something to do with activating immune response genes, however it could also be due to secondary metabolites produced by the fungi itself (or a combination of these two theories). We are diligently working on figuring out how this fungi works, as it is necessary to understand every aspect of this organism if it is to be someday used at a large scale.
Microsporidia in Anopheles funestus
We have been able to identify microsporidia in the An gembiae complex very reliably, however this is not the only major carrier of malaria (even if it is the most dangerous one). Anopheles funestus is an emerging vector in East Africa, and an established vector in the Middle East. If we can establish or discover Microsporidia MB, and test that efficacy in mosquitoes outside of the gembiae complex, it may be possible to use this microbe to control the disease in other parts of the world outside of East Africa.