This discovery could permanently transform disease-carrying mosquitoes into adolescents, never developing or reproducing.
A genetic discovery from the University of California – Riverside (UCR) could permanently transform disease-carrying mosquitoes into adolescents, never developing or reproducing. In 2018 entomologist Naoki Yamanaka discovered that a crucial steroid hormone needs transporter proteins to enter fruit fly cells and makes it difficult for them grow up as adults without this essential chemical being present in their bodies first.
Fruit flies have four different protein transporters, but only three of them exist in mosquitoes. The most crucial ecdysone transporter is lacking in mosquitoes.
Mosquitoes may be the perfect target for an insecticide that would not harm bees but can still kill off these pesky insects. A recent study published in PNAS has found a way to create this type of medication, opening up many possibilities including reducing populations of Zika-carrying mosquitoes.
“We can develop chemicals to block the functions of these ecdysone transporters but they do not affect the original transporter.” The chances for off-target effects would be low, according to research done by cell biologist Sachiko-Haga Yamanaka at UC Riverside. His team is attempting to find similar hormone transporting machinery in humans.
Though there are effective methods like this for controlling local populations of mosquitoes, Yamanaka feels it is important to develop additional tools so we can handle mosquito-related issues in many different scenarios. He points out that while the climate may be warming up and providing more favourable conditions than ever before–which would seem like an opportunity if you’re trying stop these creatures from breeding! It also creates new challenges given how unpredictable they already were before hand.
Last year researchers at London’s Imperial College completed the first-ever effective sex-distorter gene drive in an effort to reduce the malaria-causing mosquito population and control it from increasing naturally. For more on the topic, watch below: