Making mosquitoes pay for every bite

July 20th, 2011 - 6:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 20 (IANS) Scientists have hit upon a novel way to kill mosquitoes with every bite they make by disrupting their blood meal digestive syetem.

The approach could be the latest tool in the worldwide armoury to curb mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever, yellow fever and malaria.

Blocking a cellular process known as vesicle transport, on which these insects rely to release digestive enzymes, caused them to die within two days of blood feeding.

“The idea behind our research is this: If we can kill the mosquito after she bites the first person, she won’t be able to bite and infect a second,” said Roger Miesfeld, chemistry and biochemistry professor at the University of Arizona.

“We do this by blocking the mosquito’s ability to digest its blood meal,” said Miesfeld, who led the project, reports the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“During a blood meal, a mosquito ingests its body weight in blood. It’s the equivalent of a 125-pound human consuming a 12-gallon smoothie made from 25 pounds of hamburger meat plus a half pound of butter and two tablespoons of sugar,” Miesfeld said.

To maintain their bodily needs, the insects rely on sugary nectar from flowers, but when the time to make eggs comes, they need large amounts of protein. Only female mosquitoes bite and feed on the blood of humans or warm-blooded animals, according to an Arizona statement.

If a mosquito finds enough victims to bite and avoids being squashed, it can live as long as three weeks. During that time, it may lay up to five clutches of more than 100 eggs each. The team used mosquitoes of the species Aedes aegypti, which are abundant in towns and cities where the climate is warm and water is plentiful.

–Indo-Asian News service

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