Investigating the blood-host plasticity and dispersal of Anopheles coluzzii using a novel field-based methodology

James Orsborne, Luis Furuya-Kanamori, Claire L. Jeffries, Mojca Kristan, Abdul Rahim Mohammed, Yaw A. Afrane, Kathleen O'Reilly, Eduardo Massad, Chris Drakeley, Thomas Walker, Laith Yakob*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    14 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: The biting behaviour and dispersal of insect vectors in the field underlies the transmission of many diseases. Here, a novel collection methodology coupled with the molecular analysis of blood-meal sources and digestion rates is introduced with the aim of aiding the understanding of two critical and relatively understudied mosquito behaviours: plasticity in blood-host choice and vector dispersal. Results: A collection strategy utilising a transect of mosquito traps placed at 50 m intervals allowed the collection of blood-fed Anopheles coluzzii from a malaria-endemic village of southern Ghana where human host availability ranged from zero (a cattle pen), increasing until humans were the dominant host choice (the middle of the village). Blood-meal analysis using PCR showed statistically significant variation in blood-meal origins for mosquitoes collected across the 250 m transect: with decreasing trend in Bovine Blood Index (OR = 0.60 95% CI: 0.49-0.73, P < 0.01) and correspondingly, an increasing trend in Human Blood Index (OR = 1.50 95% CI: 1.05-2.16, P = 0.028) as the transect approached the village. Using qPCR, the host DNA remaining in the blood meal was quantified for field-caught mosquitoes and calibrated according to timed blood digestion in colony mosquitoes. Time since blood meal was consumed and the corresponding distance the vector was caught from its blood-host allowed the estimation of An. coluzzii dispersal rates. Within 7 hours of feeding, mosquitoes typically remained within 50 m of their blood-host but at 60 hours they had dispersed up to 250 m. Conclusions: Using this methodology the remarkably small spatial scale at which An. coluzzii blood-host choice can change was demonstrated. In addition, conducting qPCR on host blood from field-caught mosquitoes and calibrating with timed experiments with colonised mosquitoes presents a novel methodology for investigating the dispersal behaviour of vectors. Future adaptations to this novel method to make it broadly applicable to other types of setting are also discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number143
    JournalParasites and Vectors
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2019


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