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© Valérie Choumet
Mosquitoes were orally infected with the chikungunya virus. Midguts were dissected at day 5 post-infection, fixed and permeabilised. Virus is shown in red (anti-E2 protein, cyanine 3), the actin network in green (phalloidin 548) and nuclei in blue (DAPI).

About

From 2001 to 2005 I did my Ph.D at the IGF (Institut of Functional Genomic), in Montpellier, South of France. There I worked on the excellent genetic model, Drosophila melanogaster, for which I characterized a new G-Protein Coupled Receptor, only found in insects. I found both the ligand and the function of this orphan receptor we called “mange tout”.  In October 2005, I joined the Institut Pasteur for my first Postdoctoral training for working on another insect diptera, the mosquito species, Anopheles gambiae. This mosquito is the main vector of the malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum that is mainly found in Africa. Malaria disease responsible for the death of about 600,000 people each year. From 2005 to 2008, I settled an automated culture system for producing P. falciparum gametocytes and initiated functional genomic studies to identify mosquito genes controlling the development of P. falciparum during its sporogonic cycle. In 2009, I started a second posdoc in the unit of Dr. Kenneth D. Vernick to work on Anopheles immunity. The Vernick team did an unexpected field observation: In Africa where the malaria disease is most deadly, all Anopheles do not transmit the disease, as a proportion of mosquitoes can eliminate the Plasmodium parasites. This natural resitance was shown to be genetically controlled in wild A. gambiae. We identified genetic loci carrying the highest signal for this resistance. I identified mosquito genes within those loci that trigger a protective function and I am currently dissecting the underlying mechanisms involved in this parasite development-blocking process. In addition, to better understand and identify new mechanisms associated with the Anopheles mosquito’s immune system, I use other pathogens, such as entomopathogenic fungi (kill insects), and viruses, and the Trypanosoma parasites, which is also present in area where Malaria is endemic. This work will allow to address the specific mosquito’s response towards different classes of pathogens, that the mosquito has to face individually or simultaneously.

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