Fungi, spider and scorpion toxins could help fight malaria

  |   Tech News

A new study from the University of Maryland and colleagues from Burkina Faso, China and Australia suggests that a mosquito-killing fungus genetically engineered to produce spider and scorpion toxins could serve as a highly effective biological control mechanism to fight malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

The fungus is specific to mosquitoes and does not pose a risk to humans. Further, the study results suggest that the fungus is also safe for honey bees and other insects. The study was published online in the journal Scientific Reports on June 13, 2017.

"In this paper, we report that our most potent fungal strains, engineered to express multiple toxins, are able to kill mosquitoes with a single spore," said Brian Lovett, a graduate student in the UMD Department of Entomology and a co-author of the paper. "We also report that our transgenic fungi stop mosquitoes from blood feeding. Together, this means that our fungal strains are capable of preventing transmission of disease by more than 90 percent of mosquitoes after just five days."

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