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New weapon against mosquitoes found

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13.06.2019

Mosquitoes pose a special problem in countries being at risk of malaria.Insecticides have ceased to be effective against these malicious insects, yet a new weapon has been invented.It is a fungus.

As recently as in the 80's, the village of Soumousso in Burkina Faso laid down a "foundation" to one of the most powerful weapons against malaria: it had mosquito nets soaked with insecticides installed there. They had passed field trials and saved millions of human beings afterwards.Sadly, mosquitoes developed resistance to common insecticides in the course of time, due to which the mosquito nets have lost a significant constituent of their properties.

Years later, researchers have hopes related to that the village may contribute to history repeating itself once again by testing a new anti-mosquito weapon there: a genetically-modified fungus that kills mosquitoes carrying malaria.  A giant dome named "the Mosquito Sphere" was installed in Soumousso. The fungus eliminated 99% of mosquitoes present there within a month.

Marit Farenhorst at In2Care, a mosquito control company in Wageningen, the Netherlands, describes the ability to kill insecticide-resistant mosquitoes using fungi as something amazing.

Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is that the fungus is far from being used for real. It was subject to a genetic modification, due to which it may encounter serious regulatory obstacles.Still, it has its undisputed advantages: it spares insects that are not mosquitoes and - as it is not able to survive long when exposed to sunlight - its spreading outside the interiors of any building where it could be applied is highly unlikely.

Source: sciencemag.org

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