Mosquito-Bacteria Symbiosis: The Case of Anopheles gambiae and Asaia

Claudia Damiani, Irene Ricci, Elena Crotti, Paolo Rossi, Aurora Rizzi, Patrizia Scuppa, Aida Capone, Ulisse Ulissi, Sara Epis, Marco Genchi, N'Fale Sagnon, Ingrid Faye, Angray Kang, Bessem Chouaia, Cheryl Whitehorn, Guelbeogo W. Moussa, Mauro Mandrioli, Fulvio Esposito, Luciano Sacchi, Claudio BandiDaniele Daffonchio, Guido Favia*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


The symbiotic relationship between Asaia, an α-proteobacterium belonging to the family Acetobacteriaceae, and mosquitoes has been studied mainly in the Asian malaria vector Anopheles stephensi. Thus, we have investigated the nature of the association between Asaia and the major Afro-tropical malaria vector Anopheles gambiae. We have isolated Asaia from different wild and laboratory reared colonies of A. gambiae, and it was detected by PCR in all the developmental stages of the mosquito and in all the specimens analyzed. Additionally, we have shown that it localizes in the midgut, salivary glands and reproductive organs. Using recombinant strains of Asaia expressing fluorescent proteins, we have demonstrated the ability of the bacterium to colonize A. gambiae mosquitoes with a pattern similar to that described for A. stephensi. Finally, fluorescent in situ hybridization on the reproductive tract of females of A. gambiae showed a concentration of Asaia at the very periphery of the eggs, suggesting that transmission of Asaia from mother to offspring is likely mediated by a mechanism of egg-smearing. We suggest that Asaia has potential for use in the paratransgenic control of malaria transmitted by A. gambiae.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)644-654
Number of pages11
JournalMicrobial ecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I.R. was funded by “Compagnia di San Paolo” in the context of the Italian Malaria Network.

Funding Information:
E.C. and P.R. benefited of travel grant from the COST Action FA0701 and support from the Swedish Research Council to I.F. and A.K.

Funding Information:
The project was supported by the Firb-Ideas (grant RBID082MLZ) and Prin 2007 (grant 2007PK2HB7_002), both from the Italian Ministry of University and Research (MIUR), and by the EU-FP7 Capacities-Infrastructure 2008 (grant 228421) to G.F.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


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