Mosquitoes have an Achilles heel in their genes

THE ESSENTIAL

  • There are several ways to protect yourself from mosquito bites: skin repellents, bracelets, electric diffusers, bombs, etc.
  • In order to limit the reproduction of mosquitoes, it is also advisable to remove all stagnant water from their habitat, as this is where the larvae develop.

It’s not summer yet, but there are mosquitoes in some areas. We rarely see them during the day, since these pests mainly attack in the evening, at night and at dawn! In fact, during these darker and less hot hours, they are more aware of the smell and human heat, which lead them to sting and thus feed on blood.

global warming

It is impossible to make mosquitoes disappearsays Naoki Yamanaka, an entomologist and one of the authors of a study just published in the journal PNAS. Relying on a single tool to control populations would be foolish. As the climate warms, it creates even more favorable conditions for their reproduction and they become an increasing problem.“.

The authors of this study therefore wanted to understand how to stop the spread of mosquitoes by preventing them from reproducing. To do this, they conducted experiments to better analyze their reproductive function. Their goal was to find differences from other insect species… They succeeded.

Three proteins instead of four

Mosquitoes – but also other insects such as flies – need the steroid hormone ecdysone during development in order to reach sexual maturity. Without them, reproduction is not possible.

But in order for ecdysone to get to the cells and for the mosquito to reach sexual maturity, it needs protein. Most insects need four… But scientists have found that the mosquito only has three.

new chemicals

The protein that is not present in the mosquito is the one that is most important to other species. The researchers’ discovery is therefore a prerequisite for the development of new methods to combat these pests.

We will develop chemicals to block protein functions that allow ecdysone transport but do not affect the most important protein for other insects“, To explain Naoki Yamanaka.

Therefore, future research aims to develop new substances that are harmful to mosquitoes – which would block their reproductive functions – but have no effect on other insect species.

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