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Nutritional and sexual preference in Anopheles gambiae

Author Tiago G. ZEFERINO
Director of thesis Jacob C Koella
Co-director of thesis
Summary of thesis

Compared with learned behaviour, an innate behaviour is what an animal can do without practice or training. Animal innate preference behaviour is largely the primitive reaction that an animal spontaneously demonstrates when choosing between different environmental conditions or different objects. That preference will have, most of the time, some consequences because it will correspond to either an optimal environmental condition (like optimal temperature) or the better choice between different objects (like choosing the best food or the best mate).

Here I will focus in nutritional and sexual preference in Anopheles gambiae, which is the major vector of Plasmodium falciparum in Africa and is one of the most efficient malaria vectors in the world.

The first particularity of this species is that when given the choice, infected females chose a pro-oxidants diet early in life and switch to an antioxidant diet later in life. Those dietary items being easily found in nectar, we will test whether consuming a pro-oxidant or an antioxidant diet either early or late in life can affect both lifespan and tolerance to infection, as observed when mosquitoes consumed those diets throughout their life. Our results will show how innate self-medication can affect life history traits and host-parasite interactions.

The second particularity of this species is that it mates in big groups called swarms. As choosing a mate is a major fitness-affecting decision in any sexually reproducing organism, choosing the better mate in a big group become even harder and more important. Thus, we will test, under various conditions, if there is a real preference of one of the sexes for a certain phenotypic trait and what are the consequences of that choice. Our results will helps us clarify if there is indeed a natural preference and if this preference change depending of the conditions.

Status beginning
Administrative delay for the defence 2023