Background: Plasmodium infection has been shown to compromise the fitness of the mosquito vector, reducing its fecundity and longevity. However, from an evolutionary perspective, the impact of Plasmodium infection as a selective pressure on the mosquito is largely unknown. Results: In the present study we have addressed the effect of a continuous Plasmodium berghei infection on the resistance to infection and global gene expression in Anopheles gambiae. Exposure of A. gambiae to P. berghei-infected blood and infection for 16 generations resulted in a decreased susceptibility to infection, altered constitutive expression levels for approximately 2.4% of the mosquito's total transcriptome and a lower basal level of immune genes expression, including several anti-Plasmodium factors. The infection-responsiveness for several defense genes was elevated in the P. berghei exposed mosquito colonies. Conclusion: Our study establishes the existence of a selective pressure exerted by the parasite P. berghei on the malaria vector A. gambiae that results in a decreased permissiveness to infection and changes in the mosquito transcriptome regulation that suggest a decreased constitutive immune gene activity but a more potent immune response upon Plasmodium challenge.
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