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Gates Open Research


Background: Molecular xenomonitoring (MX), the testing of insect vectors for the presence of human pathogens, has the potential to provide a non-invasive and cost-effective method for monitoring the prevalence of disease within a community. Current MX methods require the capture and processing of large numbers of mosquitoes, particularly in areas of low endemicity, increasing the time, cost and labour required. Screening the excreta/feces (E/F) released from mosquitoes, rather than whole carcasses, improves the throughput by removing the need to discriminate vector species since non-vectors release ingested pathogens in E/F. It also enables larger numbers of mosquitoes to be processed per pool. However, this new screening approach requires a method of efficiently collecting E/F.

Methods: We developed a cone with a superhydrophobic surface to allow for the efficient collection of E/F. Using mosquitoes exposed to either Plasmodium falciparum, Brugia malayi or Trypanosoma brucei brucei, we tested the performance of the superhydrophobic cone alongside two other collection methods.

Results: All collection methods enabled the detection of DNA from the three parasites. Using the superhydrophobic cone to deposit E/F into a small tube provided the highest number of positive samples (16 out of 18) and facilitated detection of parasite DNA in E/F from individual mosquitoes. Further tests showed that following a simple washing step, the cone can be reused multiple times, further improving its cost-effectiveness.

Conclusions: Incorporating the superhydrophobic cone into mosquito traps or holding containers could provide a simple and efficient method for collecting E/F. Where this is not possible, swabbing the container or using the washing method facilitates the detection of the three parasites used in this study.


Xenomonitoring, malaria, filariasis, Trypanosoma, Brugia, Plasmodium, Anopheles, superhydrophobic







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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


© 2018 Cook et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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