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Public Library of Science (PLoS)

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PLoS One

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Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is a high throughput technique that measures absorbance of specific wavelengths of light by biological samples and uses this information to classify the age of lab-reared mosquitoes as younger or older than seven days with an average accuracy greater than 80%. For NIRS to estimate ages of wild mosquitoes, a sample of wild mosquitoes with known age in days would be required to train and test the model. Mark-release-recapture is the most reliable method to produce wild-caught mosquitoes of known age in days. However, it is logistically demanding, time inefficient, subject to low recapture rates, and raises ethical issues due to the release of mosquitoes. Using labels from Detinova dissection results in a mathematical model with poor accuracy. Alternatively, a model trained on spectra from laboratory-reared mosquitoes where age in days is known can be applied to estimate the age of wild mosquitoes, but this would be appropriate only if spectra collected from laboratory-reared and wild mosquitoes are similar.

Methods and findings

We performed k-means (k = 2) cluster analysis on a mixture of spectra collected from lab-reared and wild Anopheles arabiensis to determine if there is any significant difference between these two groups. While controlling the numbers of mosquitoes included in the model at each age, we found two clusters with no significant difference in distribution of spectra collected from lab-reared and wild mosquitoes (p = 0.25). We repeated the analysis using hierarchical clustering, and similarly, no significant difference was observed (p = 0.13).


We find no difference between spectra collected from laboratory-reared and wild mosquitoes of the same age and species. The results strengthen and support the on-going practice of applying the model trained on spectra collected from laboratory-reared mosquitoes, especially first-generation laboratory-reared mosquitoes.


Published version. PLoS One, Vol. 13, No. 5 (May 31, 2018): e0198245. DOI. This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

Creative Commons License

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