UMD Researchers Have A Bioengineered Fungus Ready To Combat Mosquitoes

Malaria is an alarming disease that has many of the people, especially kids, in nations like Africa killed every year. Around 400,000 people have been dying on an annual basis. The mosquitoes need to be killed along with the insect irksome which are the key transmitter of the deadly disease. The researchers from the University of Maryland (UMD) have genetically transformed a fungus to generate a spider toxin that can easily kill the mosquitoes. The fungus reduced the mosquito population in 45 Days during the out-of-lab trial. According to NPR, the use of genetic engineering is considered to be controversial as the method could prove dangerous for the real world.

In the journal Science, the researchers have mentioned that the fungus after modification showed positive results against mosquitoes. However, the major drawback is that it is not fast and hence, the insect gets marginal time to pass on malaria before dying. The engineered fungus was designed such that it can produce a toxin produced using the Australian Blue Mountains funnel-web spider’s venom, which is known to kill the mosquitoes very quickly. Similar to West Africa, a MosquitoSphere was built where the fungus was tested.

The transgenic fungus could help bring down a huge population of the mosquitoes within a limited time. The killing of the insecticide-resistant mosquitoes is also possible. The use of the transgenic method in combating mosquitoes has been tested for the first time ever. However, the future problems after releasing it into the wild cannot be judged for now. The researchers are checking for its impacts on public health, ecosystems, pollinators, and others as a cautious measure. In cases of chronic malaria, the changes in the metabolic systems in the blood support a long-term host-parasite relationship and the detection of which can help the treatment and eradication of the disease. Regina Joice Cordy and her team from Wake Forest University are studying the coexistence of both the parasite and host for identifying the changes and diseases.

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