Anopheles gambiae senso stricto is the primary mosquito vector responsible for the transmission of malaria in most of sub-Saharan Africa. It is a member of a species complex that includes at least seven morphologically indistinguishable species in the Series Pyretophorus in the Anopheles subgenus Cellia. Anopheles gambiae feeds preferentially on humans and is one of the most efficient malaria vectors known. Anopheles gambiae senso stricto is now known to consist of two genetically distinct forms or incipient species, known formally as the A. gambiae M and A. gambiae S forms. Colonies of these two forms have also been sequenced, assembled and provided here on VectorBase as the A. gambiae Mali-NIH (M) and A. gambiae Pimperena (S) genomes.
An. gambiae larvae are generally considered to typically inhabit sunlit, shallow, temporary bodies of fresh water such as ground depressions, puddles, pools and hoof prints. This characteristic may allow predator avoidance as the larvae are able to develop very quickly (~six days from egg to adult under optimal conditions), possibly in response to the ephemeral nature of such larval habitats. An. gambiae larval habitats are therefore often described as containing no (or very sparse) vegetation due to their temporary nature but the great diversity of habitats utilised by An. gambiae includes vegetated (e.g. rice fields) sites. An. gambiae larvae have been reported from habitats containing floating and submerged algae, emergent grass, rice, or ‘short plants’ and from sites devoid of any vegetation, The variability of larval habitats can be related to the known forms of An. gambiae (e.g. M and S, or Forest, Bamako, Savanna, Mopti and Bissau). For example, the Mopti and M forms are associated with semi-permanent, often man-made, larval habitats such as rice fields or flooded areas, whereas the Savanna/Bamako and S forms are seen more commonly in temporary, rain-dependent sites such as ground puddles.
Resting and feeding preferences
An. gambiae is highly anthropophilic, however, there are indications that An. gambiae can be less discriminant and more opportunistic in its host selection and that host choice is highly influenced by location, host availability and the genetic make-up of the mosquito population. Females of An. gambiae typically feed late at night and are often described as both endophagic and endophilic. Yet there is evidence that indoor and outoor biting are common and both indoor and outdoor resting behaviour appear to be regularly reported. For example, in southern Sierra Leone strong exophily has been demonstrated, linked to the Forest form. Conversely, endophilic behaviour has been linked to Savannah forms. As with host preference, this species appears to exhibit phenotypic plasticity and opportunism in resting locations.
An. gambiae is considered to be one of the most efficient vectors of malaria in the world.
This text was modified from Sinka ME et al. (2010) The dominant Anopheles vectors of human malaria in Africa, Europe and the Middle East: occurrence data, distribution maps and bionomic précis Parasites & Vectors 3:117.