Genetically modified fungus can rapidly kill 99 pc of malaria mosquitoes

Researchers create fake village filled with genetically-modified fungus to fight malaria

Researchers create fake village filled with genetically-modified fungus to fight malaria

"They're very malleable, you can genetically engineer them very easily", Prof Raymond St Leger, from the University of Maryland, told BBC News.

Dr Brain Lovett, from the University of Maryland said tests showed the fungus was specifically effective with mosquitoes only.

Scientists from the University of Maryland Baltimore and the Research Institute of Health Sciences in Burkina Faso set up a fake 6,500 square feet village or "mosquito sphere".

"Deployment of transgenic Metarhiziumagainst mosquitoes could (subject to appropriate registration) be rapid, with products that could synergistically integrate with existing chemical control strategies to avert insecticide resistance", St. Leger and colleagues wrote. The next step in the study involved enhancing the fungus.

In a scientific experiment used the fungus Metarhizium. In a controlled test, the population of these unsafe insects collapsed once the GMO fungus was introduced into the population.

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When wild mosquitoes were allowed to live freely in the dome without the presence of the fungus the population increased over the same period.

The fungus naturally infects the Anopheles mosquito, which is the only mosquito genus which carries the disease, and its genetic code was edited so it would start making the spider toxin once it comes into contact with hemolymph, which is the insect equivalent of blood.

Therefore, the experts turned to the search for new methods. However, once they were exposed to the spider-toxin fungus, only 13 of these insects were left after 45 days.

The use of transgenic fungus is one of many innovative approaches to combating mosquitoes using biology.

Another approach has been to use the Wolbachia bacteria, introducing it into pathogen-carrying mosquitoes in order to prevent them transmitting diseases such as Zika, dengue, chikungunya and yellow fever. The World Health Organization has warned that cases are now increasing in the 10 worst affected countries in Africa. Lovett added that the technology is not aiming to drive the extinction of mosquitoes: "What we're aiming to do is break malaria transmission in an area". But don't expect implacable anti-GMO activists to care about that one whit.

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