Microbe Parasite Found To Protect Mosquitoes From Malaria

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Microbe Parasite Found To Protect Mosquitoes From Malaria
Microbe Parasite Found To Protect Mosquitoes From Malaria
Video: Microbe Parasite Found To Protect Mosquitoes From Malaria
Video: Malaria Lifecycle Part 2: Mosquito Host (2016) 2023, February
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Microbe parasite found to protect mosquitoes from malaria

A new discovery by a team of scientists from Kenya and the UK could help stop the spread of the disease through mosquitoes.

Microbe parasite found to protect mosquitoes from malaria
Microbe parasite found to protect mosquitoes from malaria

Photo: CC0 Public Domain

Malaria is still a very dangerous disease that takes hundreds of thousands of lives every year. According to the World Health Organization, there were 228 million mosquito-borne malaria cases in 2018, including 405,000 deaths.

In the course of research in the area of ​​Kenya's Lake Victoria, scientists found that in the intestines and genitals of 5% of mosquitoes contain microsporidia (Microsporidia MB) - microbes that prevent insects from infesting malaria. In some areas where tests were carried out, 9% percent of the mosquito population with this microbe was recorded.

In laboratory studies, the hypothesis was confirmed: mosquitoes with microsporidia are not carriers of malaria, these microorganisms protect them from infection. Even when the mosquitoes were given contaminated blood to drink, the infection rate of the insects with microsporidia decreased and no signs of the malaria parasite were found. This means that by increasing the microbe in local mosquito populations, there is a chance to stop the spread of malaria without having to disrupt the rest of the ecosystem.

Researchers have not yet provided an unambiguous explanation for this discovery. One hypothesis is that microsporidia triggers an immune response when infected, making mosquitoes resistant to malaria. It is also possible that the microbe interferes with the metabolism of the mosquito and makes it unsuitable for the causative agent of malaria (Plasmodium falciparum).

The idea that a mosquito microbe can stop disease transmission is not entirely new. For example, the bacteria Wolbachia, which occurs naturally in mosquito populations, have shown tremendous potential in reducing the spread of Dengue fever and other insect-borne infections.

“Further research is needed to determine exactly how to use Microsporidia MB to fight malaria. In the next phase of the study, we will study microbial dynamics in large populations through screening,”says International Center of Insect Physiology and Ecology microbiologist Jeremy Herren.

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