From population structure to genetically-engineered vectors: New ways to control vector-borne diseases?

O. A.E. Sparagano, C. J. De Luna

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Epidemiological studies on vectors and the pathogens they can carry (such as Borrelia burgdorferi) are showing some correlations between infection rates and biodiversity highlighting the "dilution" effects on potential vectors. Meanwhile other studies comparing sympatric small rodent species demonstrated that rodent species transmitting more pathogens are parasitized by more ectoparasite species. Studies on population structure and size have also proven a difference on the intensity of the parasitic infection. Furthermore, preliminary results in genetic improvement in mosquitoes (genetic markers, sexing, and genetic sterilization) will also increase performance as it has already been shown in field applications in developing countries. Recent results have greatly improved the fitness of genetically-modified insects compared to wild type populations with new approaches such as the post-integration elimination of transposon sequences, stabilising any insertion in genetically-modified insects. Encouraging results using the Sterile Insect Technique highlighted some metabolism manipulation to avoid the viability of offspring from released parent insect in the wild. Recent studies on vector symbionts would also bring a new angle in vector control capabilities, while complete DNA sequencing of some arthropods could point out ways to block the deadly impact on animal and human populations. These new potential approaches will improve the levels of control or even in some cases would eradicate vector species and consequently the vector-borne diseases they can transmit. In this paper we review some of the population biology theories, biological control methods, and the genetic techniques that have been published in the last years that are recommended to control for vector-borne diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)520-525
Number of pages6
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Issue number4
Early online date7 May 2007
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiversity
  • Genetic engineering
  • Mites
  • Mosquitoes
  • Ticks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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