News / Science & Technology

Researchers Decode Genes of Major Disease-Causing Mosquito

An international team of researchers has deciphered the genetic building blocks of the third major disease causing mosquito, an insect that transmits three different diseases from sub-Saharan Africa all the way to the U.S. state of California.

Culex quinquefasciatus, or more simply the Southern House mosquito, is the third major disease-carrying mosquito to have its DNA decoded.

The mosquito is responsible for three parasitic illnesses -- West Nile virus, a brain infection called encephalitis and lymphatic filariasis, which experts say causes 120 million infections and over 40 million cases of elephantiasis each year.

Filariasis worms infect the lymphatic system, including the pea-sized glands that are part of the body's immune system, and can cause massive swellings of the limbs.

Anopholes gambiae, which transmits the malaria parasite throughout Africa and Asia, was genetically sequenced in 2002, followed in 2007 by Anopholes aegypti (uh-JIP-tie), a mosquito that transmits Yellow and Dengue fever.

Peter Arensburger, a geneticist at the University of California Riverside who did the research with an international team of 69 scientists says the sequencing of the Southern House mosquito's DNA is a critical third piece of a genetic puzzle in a global effort to contain the spread of mosquito-borne illness.

"We will now be able to see what genes all these mosquitoes have in common; these three major groups have in common.  What genes they do not have in common.  And this should help us focus in on strategies to prevent the spread of these diseases," he said.

Culex is both extremely diverse and geographically widespread, spanning the globe from South Africa all the way to the U.S. state of California, breeding in filthy water in drains and cesspools.

Scientists say the House mosquito's catalogue of protein-coding genes is significantly larger than the malaria and Dengue and Yellow fever mosquitoes, perhaps because of its ability to adapt to a wide variety of environments.

Marc Muskavitch, a professor of biology at Boston College, collaborated with gene researchers in Massachusetts. "The Southern House mosquito has this cosmopolitan view of feeding on humans and birds and livestock.  And again that may relate to the greater gene number in ways that we don't understand.  But that's a speculation many of us hold," he said.

Because it is difficult to eradicate birds, experts say diseases carried by Culex can be carried over large geographic areas.

Scientists have so far identified some 40 immune system genes shared by all three groups of mosquitoes.

The University of California's Peter Arensburger says it may be possible to develop a single biological agent against all three species.

"So, if we could develop a pesticide that targeted a particular gene in these mosquitoes or one gene that is expressed by all three mosquitoes we might be able to make pesticides that are much more targeted towards just the mosquitoes we are interested rather than something broad that would kill everything around it," he said.

Two articles describing the genetic sequence of Culex quinquefasciatus is published in the journal Science.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs