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Mosquito-Killing Fungi

July 10, 2017

Scorpion and spider genes boost a fungi’s mosquito-killing ability.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Fighting malaria with fungi. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Mosquitoes that carry malaria are becoming resistant to pesticides. In the journal Scientific Reports, University of Maryland entomologist Brian Lovett and his colleagues describe a fungus they genetically engineered to produce spider and scorpion toxins — a one-two punch that makes the fungi fatal to the mosquitos, yet harmless to bees and other insects.

BRIAN LOVETT (University of Maryland):

We actually slathered bees with this fungus and it didn’t hurt the bees at all. This is something that is very specific to mosquitoes.

HIRSHON:

Since release of genetically modified organisms is controversial, the team has confined testing to mosquito-net enclosed sites. If local, national and international regulatory groups are satisfied that the technique is safe, the team will begin open field testing in the hardest hit malaria regions in sub-Saharan Africa. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Story by Bob Hirshon