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A reliable morphological method to assess the age of male Anopheles gambiae.

Huho, B. J., Ng'habi, K. R., Killeen, G. F., Nkwengulila, G., Knols, B. G. J. and Ferguson, H. M. (2006) A reliable morphological method to assess the age of male Anopheles gambiae. Malaria journal, 5 (62). pp. 1-11. ISSN 1475-2875 (In Press)

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Release of genetically-modified (GM) or sterile male mosquitoes for malaria control is hampered by inability to assess the age and mating history of free-living male Anopheles.


Age and mating-related changes in the reproductive system of male Anopheles gambiae were quantified and used to fit predictive statistical models. These models, based on numbers of spermatocysts, relative size of sperm reservoir and presence/absence of a clear area around the accessory gland, were evaluated using an independent sample of mosquitoes whose status was blinded during the experiment.


The number of spermatocysts in male testes decreased with age, and the relative size of their sperm reservoir increased. The presence of a clear area around accessory glands was also linked to age and mating status. A quantitative model was able to categorize males from the blind trial into age groups of young (< or = 4 days) and old (> 4 days) with an overall efficiency of 89%. Using the parameters of this model, a simple table was compiled that can be used to predict male age. In contrast, mating history could not be reliably assessed as virgins could not be distinguished from mated males.


Simple assessment of a few morphological traits which are easily collected in the field allows accurate age-grading of male An. gambiae. This simple, yet robust, model enables evaluation of demographic patterns and mortality in wild and released males in populations targeted by GM or sterile male-based control programmes.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Mosquito, Anopheles gambiae, genetically-modified, malaria control, mosquito reproduction, mosquito life cycle. Mosquito control
Subjects: Malaria > Surveillance, monitoring, evaluation
Malaria > Vector control
Divisions: Ifakara Health Institute > Biomedical
Depositing User: Mr Joseph Madata
Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2012 09:01
Last Modified: 16 Aug 2012 15:57

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