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No Bite Mosquitoes

December 27, 2017

Understanding the genes behind mosquitoes’ biting behavior.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Making mosquitoes harmless. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The pitcher plant mosquito develops happily inside a carnivorous plant without getting eaten. But Notre Dame evolutionary biologist Michael Pfrender is interested in them for another reason: while most mosquitoes are either biters or non-biters, pitcher plant mosquitoes vary.

MICHAEL PFRENDER (University of Notre Dame):

There are populations that bite people and take a blood meal, and populations that wont. And when you have a trait thats like that, if it has a genetic basis, then you can start to try to ask whats the difference between the biters and the non-biters?

HIRSHON:

In the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Pfrender and his colleagues report isolating the genes responsible for blood lust. They hope to develop methods to make disease-carrying mosquitos lose their interest in biting, to stop the spread of diseases like malaria and Zika. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society

Story by Bob Hirshon