An international team of researchers, including entomologists from University of Notre Dame, revealed that they have discovered a new and potentially dangerous malaria transmitting mosquito.
The as yet unnamed, and previously unreported, mosquito breeds in the western areas of Kenya and has an unknown DNA match to any of the existing malaria-transmitting species.
The Anopheles species of mosquitoes, which transmits malaria in Africa, is already widely studied by researchers. It prefers to rest indoors during the day and feed on humans during the night.
Current malaria control programs, including spraying of insecticides and using insecticide-treated bed nets, are designed with these behaviours in mind.
Although the new species has never been implicated in the transmission of malaria, new discoveries in its biting habits pose a threat because it was found to be active outdoors and prefers to bite people earlier in the evening, soon after sunset, when people are not protected by current malaria control techniques.
Neil Lobo, a Notre Dame research associate professor and Brandy St. Laurent, a former Notre Dame doctoral student, joined forces on the team of researchers that made the discovery.
Frank Collins, Notre Dame's George and Winifred Clark Professor of Biology, Collins was principal investigator of the Malaria Transmission Consortium effort funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The discovery was announced in a paper whose lead author was Jennifer Stevenson of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
"All of the sequencing and analysis was done on campus at Notre Dame," Lobo said.