Sunday, August 22, 2010

Biological warfare

Scientists from Johns Hopkins University are waging biological warfare against mosquitoes by using a "naturally occurring virus" that "may serve as a "late-life-acting" insecticide. The virus only affects adult mosquitoes, which "are responsible for the bulk of malaria transmission."

Malaria is a widespread and deadly disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes and kills approximately one million people each year. "Insecticides are one of the main strategies currently used to control malaria transmission[;] however, evolving resistance to such therapies continues to impact such efforts." Scientists now look to late-life-acting insecticides (LLAIs), which "selectively kill older mosquitoes that spread the disease, while younger mosquitoes survive just long enough to reproduce." In this way, LLAIs kill malaria transmitting mosquitoes without affecting the gene pool in a way that will stimulate the propagation of insecticide-resistant mosquitoes.

"Reproduction allows for relaxation of evolutionary pressures that select for resistance to the agent," say the researchers. "If resistance alleles exert fitness costs, there are theoretical scenarios under which resistance is not expected to evolve, leading some to provocatively term LLAIs as 'evolution-proof'."

American Society for Microbiology (2010, August 21). Virus may act as 'evolution-proof' biopesticide against malaria. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2010, from­ /releases/2010/08/100820133238.htm

Ren et al. Potential for the Anopheles gambiae Densonucleosis Virus To Act as an "Evolution-Proof" Biopesticide. Journal of Virology, 2010; 84 (15): 7726 DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00631-10

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