These harmful and invading insects, vectors of disease, could be controlled at the reproductive level.
Apart from the inconvenience caused by the mosquitoes that invite us on our beautiful summer evenings, but also at night, these insects represent a real public health problem.
Surely we would do without the discomfort of some itchy pimples, but above all they are vectors of many diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya or zika, among the main ones.
Researchers at the University of Riverside in California in the United States have discovered what they call mosquitoes’ Achilles’ heel.
In their study, published June 1 in the journal PNAS, they explain that they have found a solution to block their puberty. This would prevent them from reproducing and thus multiplying.
A History of Proteins
To achieve their ability to reproduce, insects need a steroid hormone called ecdysone. This hormone is therefore essential for all insect species, as Syfy reports.
Most insects need four proteins to transport this hormone to cells, one of which is essential.
But in the mosquito there would only be three. And what they lack is the most widespread and above all the most effective among the other insects.
A genetic test that detects the absence of this gene
Looking at the different genomes of different insect species, only mosquitoes lack this gene.
“They don’t have this membrane transporter, but ecdysone is still important for them to be able to grow and reproduce,” the researchers explain in the publication.
Block the three proteins to block the hormone
This genetic trait, unique to mosquitoes, means scientists can design new insecticides to attack them without affecting other animals.
So if entomologists were able to devise some sort of blocker for the three proteins that are useful to mosquitoes but not essential to other insects, they could use it to control mosquito reproduction.
Indeed, this would prevent them from producing the hormone that allows them to reach sexual maturity and thus reproduce without affecting other insects.
Another protein enables the hormone to be produced and transported to other insects.
So this flaw in this protein would be the solution to the ever-increasing spread of mosquitoes.