Background: The susceptibility status of Anopheles funestus to insecticides remains largely unknown in most parts of Africa because of the difficulty in rearing field-caught mosquitoes of this malaria vector. Here we report the susceptibility status of the An. funestus population from Tororo district in Uganda and a preliminary characterisation of the putative resistance mechanisms involved.
Methodology/principal findings: A new forced egg laying technique used in this study significantly increased the numbers of field-caught females laying eggs and generated more than 4000 F1 adults. WHO bioassays indicated that An. funestus in Tororo is resistant to pyrethroids (62% mortality after 1 h exposure to 0.75% permethrin and 28% mortality to 0.05% deltamethrin). Suspected DDT resistance was also observed with 82% mortality. However this population is fully susceptible to bendiocarb (carbamate), malathion (organophosphate) and dieldrin with 100% mortality observed after exposure to each of these insecticides. Sequencing of a fragment of the sodium channel gene containing the 1014 codon conferring pyrethroid/DDT resistance in An. gambiae did not detect the L1014F kdr mutation but a correlation between haplotypes and resistance phenotype was observed indicating that mutations in other exons may be conferring the knockdown resistance in this species. Biochemical assays suggest that resistance in this population is mediated by metabolic resistance with elevated level of GSTs, P450s and pNPA compared to a susceptible strain of Anopheles gambiae. RT-PCR further confirmed the involvement of P450s with a 12-fold over-expression of CYP6P9b in the Tororo population compared to the fully susceptible laboratory colony FANG.
Conclusion: This study represents the first report of pyrethroid/DDT resistance in An. funestus from East Africa. With resistance already reported in southern and West Africa, this indicates that resistance in An. funestus may be more widespread than previously assumed and therefore this should be taken into account for the implementation and management of vector control programs in Africa.