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 won’t. And when you have a trait that’s like that, if it has a genetic basis, then you can start to try to ask what’s the difference between the biters and the non-biters?
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