Sunita Swain

Programme: Insectary operations and management

To understand the biology, vectoral capacity and diversity of mosquitoes in India, it is important to establish and maintain mosquito colonies in controlled environments. Our team has established a state-of-the-art insectary at TIGS-CI where we have the capacity to maintain numerous mosquito lines of different species. Currently, we have established colonies of Anopheles stephensi and Aedes aegypti and we support the various scientific programmes of TIGS-CI. Importantly, we train users and comply with the government-mandated standards for biosafety and containment. In addition to this, we spearhead research in the areas that are listed below:

  1. Establishing genomic resources for Anopheles stephensi: Anopheles stephensi is uniquely Indian (Indian sub-continent) vector for urban malaria, that has recently been shown to have spread to Africa and Sri Lanka. Despite this, there are limited genomic resources for this important species. To this end, we have established an iso-female line in our insectary, and, together with our collaborators, we have assembled a reference genome for it. In addition to this, we also conduct whole genome analysis of mosquito populations from across India to establish a thorough understanding of population genetics and diversity of An. stephensi populations in India.

  2. Establishment of parasite challenge assays: To evaluate the vectoral capacity of various mosquito populations from different regions of India, we have established parasite challenge assays. These tests are also essential to assess the efficacies of various antibodies in blocking transmission of the malarial parasite.

  3. Establishment of transgenesis in mosquitoes: To understand the biology of mosquitoes and their ability to spread disease it is essential to establish transgenesis in mosquitoes. Our team is leading the efforts in microinjections of mosquito embryos.

Research programmes undertaken by the insectary

The Insectary team - Left to right - Joydeep Roy, Naveen Kumar, Nirmal Kumar, Surendiran S, Sampath Kumar, Sunita Swain, Chaitali Ghosh, Soumya M