Vector genomic surveillance
MalariaGEN's mosquito genomic surveillance programme - also known as the Vector Observatory - is a network of studies researching genetic variation in the Anopheles mosquito species responsible for transmitting malaria. These studies are creating the world’s largest reference resources of genome variation data for Anopheles species.
Why we need genomic surveillance of Anopheles species
Insecticide-treated bednets play an important role in reducing and controlling the spread of malaria, particularly in Africa. However, Anopheles mosquito populations are evolving resistance to the insecticides used in the bednets, and this is threatening malaria control. If we are to eliminate malaria, it is vital that we understand which mosquito populations are transmitting the disease and how their populations are changing. This will help extend the lifespan of current insecticides, accelerate the development of new ones, and potentially introduce new tools to prevent malaria transmission.
Open genomic data resources on malaria vector species
Genomic surveillance of vector species supports malaria elimination efforts through building open data resources from sequencing of mosquitoes collected in malaria-endemic countries. These data provide a reference point against which population changes and genetic variants associated with insecticide resistance can be identified and monitored.
In 2014 the Anopheles gambiae 1000 Genomes Project, also known as Ag1000G, released its first major data set. Since then this international collaboration has grown to include more partners, and the latest data release includes whole-genome sequencing of over 3,000 mosquitoes. Our data release policies vary between projects, but are all designed to be equitable and appropriate, and to acknowledge the contributions of the researchers that conducted the original scientific study and generated the data. To date we have:
- Established an international consortium to study natural genetic variation in Anopheles mosquitoes
- Sequenced thousands of wild-caught mosquitoes from more than 19 African countries
- Released data on more than 50 million genetic differences (single nucleotide polymorphisms)
- These data are being used to advance our understanding of insecticide resistance