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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Grass Pollen Affects Survival and Development of Larval Anopheles arabiensis (Diptera: Culicidae)

Asmare, Yelfwagash; Hopkins, Richard J.; Tekie, Habte; Hill, Sharon R.; Ignell, Rickard


Nutrients in breeding sites are critical for the survival and development of malaria mosquitoes, having a direct impact on vectorial capacity. Yet, there is a limited understanding about the natural larval diet and its impact on the individual fitness of mosquitoes. Recent studies have shown that gravid Anopheles arabiensis Patton (Diptera: Culicidae) are attracted by and oviposit in grass-associated habitats. The pollen provided by these grasses is a potential source of nutrients for the larvae. Here, we assess the effect of Typha latifolia L. (Poales: Typhaceae), Echinochloa pyramidalis Lamarck, Pennisetum setaceum Forssk dagger l, and Zea mays L. pollen on larval survival and rate of development in An. arabiensis under laboratory conditions. In addition, we characterize the carbon to nitrogen ratio and the size of pollen grains as a measure of diet quality. Carbon-rich pollen with a small grain size (T. latifolia and P. setaceum; 9.7 +/- 0.3 x 10(3) and 5.5 +/- 0.2 x 10(4) mu m(3), respectively) resulted in enhanced rates of development of An. arabiensis. In contrast, the larva fed on the nitrogen-rich control diet (TetraMin) was slower to develop, but demonstrated the highest larval survival. Larvae fed on carbon-rich and large-grained Z. mays pollen (4.1 +/- 0.2 x 10(5) mu m(3)) survived at similar levels as those fed on the control diet and also took a longer time to develop compared with larvae fed on the other pollens. While males and females did not appear to develop differently on the different pollen diets, males consistently emerged faster than their female counterparts. These results are discussed in relation to integrated vector management.


Carbon to nitrogen ratio; pollen grain; nutrient; mosquito; malaria

Published in

Journal of Insect Science
2017, volume: 17, number: 5, article number: 93

Authors' information

Asmare, Yelfwagash
Addis Ababa University
Hopkins, Richard
University of Greenwich
Tekie, Habte
Addis Ababa University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Plant Protection Biology

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SDG3 Good health and wellbeing

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