Anopheles arabiensis continues to be the primary vector of Plasmodium falciparum after decades of malaria control in southwestern Ethiopia

N Eligo, T Wegayehu, M Pareyn, G Tamiru, B Lindtjorn, F Massebo

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


Investigating the species distribution and their role in malaria transmission is important as it varies from place to place and is highly needed to design interventions appropriate to the site. The current study aimed to investigate the Anopheles mosquito species distribution and their infection rate in southwestern Ethiopia.

The study was conducted in 14 malaria-endemic kebeles (the smallest administrative unit), which were situated in eight different malaria-endemic districts and four zones in southwestern Ethiopia. Ten per cent of households in each village were visited to collect adult mosquitoes using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) light traps. The larval and pupal collection was done from breeding sites within the villages, and reared to adults. Female mosquitoes were morphologically identified. The head and thorax of adult Anopheles mosquitoes were tested for circumsporozoite proteins (CSPs) using ELISA. At the same time, legs, wings, and abdomen were used to identify sibling species using PCR targeting the rDNA intergenic spacers region for species typing of the Anopheles funestus group and the internal transcribed spacer 2 region genes for Anopheles gambiae complex.

A total of 1445 Anopheles mosquitoes comprising eight species were collected. Of 813 An. gambiae complex tested by PCR, 785 (97%) were Anopheles arabiensis, and the remaining 28 (3%) were not amplified. There were 133 An. funestus group captured and tested to identify the species, of which 117 (88%) were positive for Anopheles parensis, and 15 (11%) were not amplified. A single specimen (1%) showed a band with a different base pair length from the known An. funestus group species. Sequencing revealed this was Anopheles sergentii. Among 1399 Anopheles tested for CSPs by ELISA, 5 (0.4%) An. arabiensis were positive for Plasmodium falciparum and a single (0.07%) was positive for Plasmodium vivax.

Anopheles arabiensis continues to play the principal role in malaria transmission despite implementing indoor-based interventions for decades. Sequencing results suggest that An. sergentii was amplified by the An. funestus group primer, producing PCR amplicon size of different length. Therefore, relying solely on amplifying a specific gene of interest in grouping species could be misleading, as different species may share the same gene.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalMalaria Journal
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2024


  • Anopheles arabiensis
  • Anopheles sergentii
  • Anopheles species distribution
  • Circum-sporozoite proteins
  • Ethiopia


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