Malaria journal

Discovery of an oviposition attractant for gravid malaria vectors of the Anopheles gambiae species complex.

PMID 25885703


New strategies are needed to manage malaria vector populations that resist insecticides and bite outdoors. This study describes a breakthrough in developing 'attract and kill' strategies targeting gravid females by identifying and evaluating an oviposition attractant for Anopheles gambiae s.l. Previously, the authors found that gravid An. gambiae s.s. females were two times more likely to lay eggs in lake water infused for six days with soil from a natural oviposition site in western Kenya compared to lake water alone or to the same but autoclaved infusion. Here, the volatile chemicals released from these substrates were analysed with a gas-chromatograph coupled to a mass-spectrometer (GC-MS). Furthermore, the behavioural responses of gravid females to one of the compounds identified were evaluated in dual choice egg-count bioassays, in dual-choice semi-field experiments with odour-baited traps and in field bioassays. One of the soil infusion volatiles was readily identified as the sesquiterpene alcohol cedrol. Its widespread presence in natural aquatic habitats in the study area was confirmed by analysing the chemical headspace of 116 water samples collected from different aquatic sites in the field and was therefore selected for evaluation in oviposition bioassays. Twice as many gravid females were attracted to cedrol-treated water than to water alone in two choice cage bioassays (odds ratio (OR) 1.84; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.16-2.91) and in experiments conducted in large-screened cages with free-flying mosquitoes (OR 1.92; 95% CI 1.63-2.27). When tested in the field, wild malaria vector females were three times more likely to be collected in the traps baited with cedrol than in the traps containing water alone (OR 3.3; 95% CI 1.4-7.9). Cedrol is the first compound confirmed as an oviposition attractant for gravid An. gambiae s.l. This finding paves the way for developing new 'attract and kill strategies' for malaria vector control.