Transgenic Fungus Rapidly Killed Malaria Mosquitoes in West African Study

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 31 May 2019



Welcome to The MosquitoSphere
Simulated Village Setting for the Fungal Spider Toxin Study
The MosquitoSphere, Etienne Bilgo, University of Maryland.
MosquitoSphere, a roughly 6,550-square-foot, screened-in structure in Burkina Faso, West Africa, was designed to simulate a village setting and included plants, huts, small pools of water and a food source for mosquitoes. Etienne Bilgo, University of Maryland.


Island of Doctor Moreau? Are We Warping an Entire Planet?

Transgenic Fungus Rapidly Killed Malaria Mosquitoes in West African Study,
University of Maryland, May 30, 2019.


The Skeeter Scope
"...malaria affects hundreds of millions of people around the world, killing more than 400,000 annually."

"...insecticide use has failed to control mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite and has led to insecticide-resistance..."

"...scientists began genetically modifying mosquitoes..."

A genetically modified fungus with spider venom genes woven into its genetic code.

The Original fungus
"The fungus is a naturally occurring pathogen that infects insects in the wild and kills them slowly. It has been used to control various pests for centuries."

Fungus Toxin Modification
"The scientists used a strain of the fungus that is specific to mosquitoes and engineered it to produce a toxin that kills mosquitoes more rapidly than they can breed. This transgenic fungus caused mosquito populations in their test site to collapse to unsustainable levels within two generations."

Super-fungus Poison Production
"The toxin is an insecticide called Hybrid. It is derived from the venom of the Australian Blue Mountains funnel-web spider"

Under Control?
"By combining the genetic code for that switch with the code for making Hybrid, the scientists were able to ensure that their modified fungus only produces the toxin inside the body of a mosquito. They tested their modified fungus on other insects in Maryland and Burkina Faso, and found that the fungus was not harmful to beneficial species such as honeybees."

A Selective Fungus
"These fungi are very selective. They know where they are from chemical signals and the shapes of features on an insect's body. The strain we are working with likes mosquitoes. When this fungus detects that it is on a mosquito, it penetrates the mosquito's cuticle and enters the insect. It won't go to that trouble for other insects, so it's quite safe for beneficial species such as honeybees."

The MosquitoSphere
"...they constructed a roughly 6,550-square-foot, screened-in structure they called MosquitoSphere. Inside, multiple screened chambers contained experimental huts, plants, small mosquito-breeding pools and a food source for the mosquitoes."

"In the chamber containing the sheet treated with the transgenic fungus, mosquito populations plummeted over 45 days to just 13 adult mosquitoes. That is not enough for the males to create a swarm, which is required for mosquitoes to breed."

"Next, the international team of scientists hope to test their transgenic fungus in a local village or community."


Bottom Line

I'm nervous. These guys figured out how to engineer a fungus to produce spider toxins. Since this is working out to be a, "tech war," between skeeters and humans, I will not be surprised when the skeeters, "counter-attack," by figuring out how to adopt themselves to the poison, absorb it, and develop the capability to transmit it to us through their sting, along with the customary malaria...

Or maybe we get a new wild fungus that, "bites," like a spider!

Then we can brag about how we, "invented," the, "flying skeeter-spider," and the ever spreading, "spider-fungus!"
Maybe I'm a skeptic because of our expanding failures with insecticides and antibiotics. Our current and long-standing policies for industrial use of both insecticides and antibiotics long ago assured their failures, and is still assuring their failures today, a continued bad behavior that makes me expect we will use similar dumb-ass policies that will trigger pretty much the same responses from Nature to any technology we deploy.

Our insect and microbe targets have and will continue to become immune to our bio-measures, their own ultimate response to our technologically sophisticated measures is by becoming more sophisticated creatures themselves.

In the final analysis, our technological bio weapons and agents of control have only done two things. Most succeeded in making the insects and bacteria much more effective against us. The rest have proven so deadly and destructive that their broad health and environmental costs far outweigh their benefits.


Previous Skeeter News

2019 Wet Year Mosquito Season

Owens Valley Ready for the Deluge

Dr Franken-Skeeter

Mutagenic chain reaction could knock malaria out of mosquitoes for good

Mosquitoes Resist Genetic Manipulation 


CRISPR: Reopens The Island of Doctor Moreau, Creating Freaks of Nature, Making mosquitoes self-destruct



Skeeter Problemoes

SKEETER NEWS 2018: Warming Climate Spreading Skeeters, Ticks, & their Diseases

Exposure to Deadly Aedes Mosquitoes & their Diseases Doubling with Global Warming


Picaridin Saving more Skeeters than it’s Killing?

DEET Resistance Aids Transmission of West Nile Virus


Feb 16-2013
Mosquitoes ignore repellent Deet after first exposure
BBC, 2-20-13



Ancient Skeeters

Some Deep Mosquito & Malaria History: In Gondwana Land?



Skeeter Defenses for Backpackers

Mosquitoes and Seasonal Temperature Shifts: Backpacking the High Sierra.




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