The invasive shrub Prosopis juliflora enhances the malaria parasite transmission capacity of Anopheles mosquitoes: a habitat manipulation experiment
Malaria Journal 2017
A neglected aspect of alien invasive plant species is their influence on mosquito vector ecology and malaria transmission. Invasive plants that are highly attractive to Anopheles mosquitoes provide them with sugar that is critical to their survival. The effect on Anopheles mosquito populations was examined through a habitat
manipulation experiment that removed the flowering branches of highly attractive Prosopis juliflora from selected villages in Mali, West Africa.
Nine villages in the Bandiagara district of Mali were selected, six with flowering Prosopis juliflora, and three without. CDC-UV light traps were used to monitor their Anopheles spp. vector populations, and recorded their species composition, population size, age structure, and sugar feeding status. After 8 days, all of the flowering branches were removed from three villages and trap catches were analysed again.
Villages where flowering branches of the invasive shrub Prosopis juliflora were removed experienced a threefold drop in the older more dangerous Anopheles females. Population density dropped by 69.4% and the species composition shifted from being a mix of three species of the Anopheles gambiae complex to one dominated by Anopheles coluzzii. The proportion of sugar fed females dropped from 73 to 15% and males from 77 to 10%.
This study demonstrates how an invasive plant shrub promotes the malaria parasite transmission capacity of African malaria vector mosquitoes. Proper management of invasive plants could potentially reduce mosquito populations and malaria transmission.