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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid