Expanding Genetic and Genomic Resources for Sex Separation and Mosquito Control Strategies

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Virginia Tech


Mosquitoes belonging to the genera Anopheles transmit malaria parasites, attributing the highest mortality of any vector-borne disease worldwide. Mosquitoes belonging to the genera Aedes transmit arboviruses including dengue, which has become the most important vector-borne virus due to a drastic surge in disease incidence. The scope of the studies in this dissertation is broad, with investigations bringing together elements of classical genetics, recent advances in sequencing and genome-editing technologies, and the use of modern forward genetics approaches. Chapter 2 of this dissertation explores the use of the Oxford Nanopore Sequencing Technology for the first time in mosquitoes. This new technology provides long reads that were used to piece together the AabS3 chromosomal assembly for Anopheles albimanus. The utility of this genomic resource is demonstrated by the discovery of novel telomeric repeats at the ends of the chromosomes that could have important implications in mosquito biology and control. Chapter 3 describes a forward genetics strategy called 'Marker-Assisted Mapping' (MAM) that enables high-resolution mapping of the causal gene locus of a mutant phenotype. The principle and effectiveness of MAM is first demonstrated by mapping a known transgene insertion. MAM is then used to identify cardinal as a candidate causal gene for the spontaneous red-eye (re) mutation. Genetic crosses between the re mutant and cardinal knocking out individuals generated using CRISPR/Cas9 confirmed that cardinal indeed is the causal gene for re mutation. Chapter 4 explores three innovative strategies for mosquito sex separation by exploiting several sex-linked marker lines. We show that by linking a transgenic marker to the male-determining locus (M locus), or by linking the male-determining Nix gene to a marker, males can be precisely separated from females. We also produce a two-marker transgenic line that allows for both non-transgenic male separation and for efficient line maintenance. Finally, we discuss further applications of the resources generated and future directions stemming from these findings. Altogether, the studies described in this dissertation contribute to the overall goal of understanding mosquito biology and of controlling mosquito-borne infectious diseases.



Mosquito, Aedes aegypti, genome assembly, genome editing, forward genetics, sex separation, sex linkage