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Malaria-Resistant Mosquitoes Fitter Than Wildtype Strains

Transgenic mosquitoes may help control malaria spread

THURSDAY, March 22 (HealthDay News) -- Transgenic mosquitoes that are resistant to Plasmodium infection are more likely in controlled experiments to survive and breed than their wildtype counterparts, which may help spread the gene and control malaria outbreaks, according to a report published online March 19 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, Ph.D., and colleagues from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md., studied the fitness of transgenic mosquitoes that express a peptide in the midgut that prevents Plasmodium berghei transmission compared with wildtype mosquitoes. Equal numbers wildtype and transgenic mosquitoes were fed Plasmodium-infected blood in controlled cage-invasion experiments.

The investigators found that after nine generations of feeding of Plasmodium-infected blood, 70 percent of the mosquitoes were transgenic compared to 50 percent at the start of the experiment. The fitness advantage was largely due to increased survival and egg-laying of the transgenic population.

While the rate of gene introgression may be too slow to establish the transgene in the general population, "transgenic mosquitoes that interfere with parasite development should make more difficult the reintroduction of the parasite after eradication of malaria from the target area," the authors write.

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