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May 10 2013

Using Bacteria To Swat Malaria Inside Mosquitoes


It's a bit like probiotics for mosquitoes. When scientists infect mosquitoes with a specific bacterium, the insects become resistant to the malaria parasite.

Sounds like an easy way to stamp out malaria, right? Just introduce the infected mosquitoes into an area and let the bugs take over the natural population. But there's been one big hitch: The bacterium called Wolbachia doesn't stick around inside mosquitoes that carry malaria. So scientists would have to continually release flocks of treated mosquitoes to keep malaria down.

Now entomologists have overcome this obstacle, at least partially. They've created a malaria-transmitting mosquito that maintains the Wolbachia infection for its entire lifetime and even passes it onto its offspring.

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