In Burkina Faso, GM fungus rapidly kills 99% of malaria mosquitoes

Malaria Mosquitoes

Malaria Mosquitoes. Image via Wikipedia

Scientists from the University of Maryland and Burkina Faso applied the pathogen to a sheet, which was hung up in a mock-up village.

Reports of a breakthrough genetically modified (GM) fungus that kills 99 per cent of malaria mosquitoes are coming in thick and fast.

Researchers from the University of Maryland in the USA engineered the fungus to deliver a toxin to mosquitoes.

Dr Brain Lovett, from the University of Maryland said tests showed the fungus was specifically effective with mosquitoes only. Making the development of the GMO fungus a more urgent priority, malaria mosquitoes are developing resistance against existing poisons and infection rates are increasing.

Inside the sphere was a fungus known as Metarhizium pingshaense which had been genetically modified so it produces venom originally from a spider.

"They are very malleable, you can very easily engineer them genetically".

A toxin found in the venom of a species of funnel-web spider in Australia were added to the fungus's own genetic code.

The scientists built the 6,550-square-foot space called "MosquitoSphere" with areas containing experimental huts, plants, small mosquito-breeding pools and their food source.

An global group of scientists from the United States and Burkina Faso "improved" the fungus by using the gene of the Hybrid neurotoxin and tested in conditions as close to real.

They found that spraying the disputes of the fungus Metarhizium in the tents reduces mosquito bites, but not destroy them completely. The mosquitoes would be exposed to the fungus once they land on these sheets.

The Malaria disease is spread when female mosquitoes drink blood. An organization called Target Malaria is working in West Africa on genetic engineering approaches to reduce the fertility of Anopheles or their ability to transmit disease.

After 45 days, there were 1,396 mosquitoes in the control group.

Commenting on the findings, Prof Michael Bonsall, from the University of Oxford, said: "Neat - this is a super-exciting study".

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