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Tackling Zika By Altering Mosquito Mating Patterns

Zika Virus

Scientists are considering attempting to influence mosquito mating patterns in a bid to slowdown the spread of Zika virus disease. The viral disease has been known of since it was discovered in Uganda in 1947. However, it is only in the past year that the disease has become one of global concern.

As reported previously in The Latest News, the disease affected about one in four people (symptoms are generally a mil fever); however, the disease can damage the unborn child carried by pregnant women (affecting the brain through a condition called microcephaly).

Cornell University researchers report that genetic cues from male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes passed on during mating appear to affect which genes are turned on or off in a females’ reproductive tract. Importantly this including genes related to blood feeding, egg development and immune defense.

The change happens due to alterations in RNA populations in the lower reproductive tract. RNA is the chemical messenger by which the information in genes is translated into protein.

In should be theoretically possible, based on this finding, to exploit the genetic ‘on-off’ switch in order to combat mosquito-borne diseases including dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika virus.

The researchers have published their findings in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The research paper is titled “Mating-Induced Transcriptome Changes in the Reproductive Tract of Female Aedes aegypti.”

About the author

Tim Sandle

Dr. Tim Sandle is a chartered biologist and holds a first class honours degree in Applied Biology; a Masters degree in education; and has a doctorate from Keele University.