Photo: Wellcome Trust Images
Photo: Wellcome Trust Images

SUMF is an entity located within the Department of Molecular Biosciences, The Wenner-Gren Institute (MBW), which represents an exceptionally strong research environment with knowledge regarding insect biology, insect-borne disease and vector  born mammalian parasites.

The current mosquito laboratory is biosafety level 3 (BSL-3) facility for the containment of non-air transmitted microbial pathogens up to level 3 (P3*). This is one of few facilities in Europe  where it is possible to propagate mosquito vectors and also experimentally infect them with parasites. The SUMF laboratory consists of two closely located areas; an insectary for infected and non-infected mosquitoes, and a laboratory for culturing human asexual and the gametocyte forms infecting mosquitoes. The short distance between the areas allows for infection of mosquitoes a few minutes after the parasites have been prepared. In addition a laboratory for single cell microscopy has recently been added to SUMF that is placed within the the Imaging Facility at SU (IFSU).

 

The activities currently performed at the SUMF

• Production of asexual (human) forms and sporogonic (mosquito) forms of Plasmodium falciparum

• Production of Anopheles gambiae  sensu lato mosquitoes

• Preparation of material for mosquito transcriptomics and bioinformatics analyses of RNA seq.

• Functional analysis of gene expression using RNAi.

• Hands-on training handling malaria parasites and mosquito culturing of PhD students and researchers as well as advice for experimental set up.

In addition to the requirements for the containment and biosafety when handling high-risk malaria parasites that can infect humans, the facility can also produce murine malaria parasites (BSL2/P2) for studies of malaria in mice, a common model in malaria research.

The facility is open for use by other groups at prime costs after the people involved have passed a tests regarding the rules and routines in this faciliy.  In addition to the requirements for the containment and biosafety when handling high-risk malaria parasites that can infect humans, the facility  will also be able to produce murine malaria parasites (BSL2/P2) for studies in mice, a common model formalaria research. This capacity will be exploited in the future to enable studies carried out in the SU-Experimental Core Facility for animal research (SU-ECF) and the Imaging Facility at SU (IFSU) located at MBW. This facility supported in part from funding by the Natural Science Faculty at SU will also have a specialized imaging node for advanced two-photon Intravital Microscopy (IVM). Consequently, as for SUMF, IVM will be accessible to all qualified research groups in Sweden and Europe. The close proximity of SUMF, IFSU and SU-ECF opens many unique experimental options to address fundamental questions related to cell biology, physiology and medicine where high-resolution imaging of cell-tissue or parasite-tissue interactions is required. The combination of these research infrastructures has great potential and will contribute to ensure that malaria research can remain at the forefront of a field of growing strategic value.

The SU malaria mosquito facility has been an important infrastructure node for several EU networks and has contributed to the FP6 network Biology and Pathology of the Malaria Parasite (BioMalPar) 2004-2008, the EU COST Action FA0701 Arthropod Symbiosis: From Fundamental Studies to Pest and Disease Management 2009-2012, and the EU FP7 Capacities-Research Infrastructure: Infrastructure for research on the implementation of genetic control of mosquitoes (INFRAVEC). 2009-2014.

Photo: Jonathan Mwangi
Photo: Jonathan Mwangi

The current activity at the SU Malaria Mosquito P3 Facility are carried out by Dr. Noushin Emami and Dr. Johan Ankarklev, who are also in charge of the facility under the the Head of MBW (Professor Per Ljungdahl) and Professor Emerita Ingrid Faye as senior supervisor.