New bio-control research could help regulate the spread of Zika

New research published by Swansea University academics has revealed an effective new bio-control in the form of fungal blastospores which could help to regulate the spread of a range of diseases such as yellow fever, dengue, Chikungunya and more recently, Zika by destroying the mosquitoes that transmit them.

Aedes aegypti mosquito

Researchers from the Bioscience Department at the College of Science , the State University of North Fluminense, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Adnan Menderes University, Turkey. have found that the  blastospores of the insect pathogenic Metarhizium brunneum fungus have been found to be effective in killing Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae and could be used to control the number and spread of this type of mosquito. 

The research paper published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS) journal  details the way in which the blastospores, which are a fungal spore produced by budding, can swiftly and effectively kill the mosquito larvae.  The study shows that blastospores are more virulent than conidia spores which have been used to control Aedes aegypti larvae in the past and provides a clear explanation of the reason for this.

infection of the aedes aegypti mosquito larvae

The research found

  • Blastospores, unlike conidia, can infect the larvae in multiple ways through both the cuticle and gut.
  • This results in rapid death within 12-24 hours
  • Conidia infect the larvae differently and can take from 48 to 96 hours to cause death.
  • Blastospores produce copious mucilage which ensures that many spores attach to the cuticle.
  • Blastopores have greater potential for the control of Aedes aegypti larvae in mosquito control programmes

Professor Tariq Butt who led the study said: “This type of mosquitocauses dengue, one of the fastest emerging diseases and, more recently, the Zika virus, which has been linked to thousands of birth defects over the last two years in Brazil.  These diseases impact significantly on the world’s population and have a profound impact on human health. Therefore our findings are timely, have far-reaching implications and obvious implications for biocontrol strategies of Aedes aegypti.”