good-riddance-to-mosquitoes

good-riddance-to-mosquitoes

Mosquitoes that carry the Plasmodium parasite cause some 300 million cases of malaria every year, claiming one million lives. That’s a lot of carnage generated by an insect smaller than a pinky fingernail—but if enterprising researchers have their way, their blood-thirsty assault won’t continue much longer. Here are some of the most promising strategies for wiping out malaria-carrying mosquitoes:

Practice good breeding. Johns Hopkins University researchers have devised genetically modified mosquitoes that express a protein known as SM1, making them immune to the Plasmodium parasite. If these GM skeeters can outcompete their wild counterparts, malaria-bearing mosquitoes could find themselves a casualty of human-directed evolution.

Attack on two fronts. When mosquitoes evolve resistance to commonly used chemical pesticides, pest-eradication gurus have to look elsewhere for solutions. One effective alternative is the fungus Beauveria bassiana. A 2009 study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that although B. bassiana spores can kill malarial mosquitoes in their own right, the spores also make mosquito hosts more susceptible to death by pesticide application—a devastating one-two punch.

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