Modulation of Malaria Infection in Anopheles gambiae Mosquitoes Exposed to Natural Midgut Bacteria

The development of Plasmodium falciparum within the Anopheles gambiae mosquito relies on complex vector-parasite interactions, however the resident midgut microbiota also plays an important role in mediating parasite infection. In natural conditions, the mosquito microbial flora is diverse, composed of commensal and symbiotic bacteria. We report here the isolation of culturable midgut bacteria from mosquitoes collected in the field in Cameroon and their identification based on the 16S rRNA gene sequencing. We next measured the effect of selected natural bacterial isolates on Plasmodium falciparum infection prevalence and intensity over multiple infectious feedings and found that the bacteria significantly reduced the prevalence and intensity of infection. These results contrast with our previous study where the abundance of Enterobacteriaceae positively correlated with P. falciparum infection (Boissière et al. 2012). The oral infection of bacteria probably led to the disruption of the gut homeostasis and activated immune responses, and this pinpoints the importance of studying microbe-parasite interactions in natural conditions. Our results indicate that the effect of bacterial exposure on P. falciparum infection varies with factors from the parasite and the human host and calls for deeper dissection of these parameters for accurate interpretation of bacterial exposure results in laboratory settings.