Several JHMRI groups have advanced their malaria vector mosquito research, aiming at novel innovative control strategies, to the point where semi-field studies have become a necessity. A Mosquito House based on a modified greenhouse, that simulates a natural mosquito ecosystem, that will provide this capability, has been constructed. It will enable the validation of laboratory-based research findings and their further exploration at semi-field conditions. The sphere acts as a step between the lab and the field, prior to malaria control implementation.
The 98 feet long and 66 feet wide steel framed malaria sphere is built on a concrete slab with walls made of netting. Six inside rooms (compartments) can mimic the local climate and ecosystem without letting mosquitoes in or out. One of the sphere compartments contains a hut — creating “indoor/outdoor” venues for tests, along with native plants, grasses and domestic animals of the region.
Examples of the ongoing JHMRI projects that will utilize this facility are:
- The study and evaluation of malaria-resistant genetically modified mosquitoes for field release and malaria control, and the evaluation of new mosquito target genes for the engineering of malaria resistance (Dr. Dimopoulos laboratory).
- The study and optimization of mosquito exposure to both natural and genetically modified mosquito-associated bacteria for transmission blocking of malaria parasites (Drs. Dimopoulos and Jacobs-Lorena laboratories).
- The evaluation of how the use of long-lasting insecticidal mosquito nets (LLINs) results in the modification of mosquito behavior that could affect the efficacy of malaria control programs (Dr. Norris group).
- The scientists will also be able to evaluate novel insecticides, attractants, and other malaria control methods — all in a more real-world environment.