Mosquitoes have an Achilles heel in their genes

Summer has only just begun and already, you can’t stand mosquitoes spoiling your evenings? Researchers may well have found a new solution to your problem. A genetic Achilles’ heel that would prevent disease-carrying mosquitoes from reproducing.

To grow and develop, to reach sexual maturity, all insects rely on a hormone steroid called ecdysone. A hormone of the moult » who needs protein to reach the heart of the cells. Four different proteins have been identified by the researchers. But one appears to be essential. It happens like that with all insects. Except… in the mosquito, have just discovered researchers at the University of California at Riverside (United States).

This Achilles’ heel unexpected, the entomologists now hope to use it to fight against the mosquito breeding. Because mosquitoes, it must be remembered, not only disturb our summer nights, but above all, spread serious illnesses such as Zikathe dengue feverthe yellow fever or even the chikungunya. And in a warming climate, more and more regions are affected.

Eliminate mosquitoes while preserving other insects

Researchers have already developed a few means of control. Recently, they started releasing sterile male mosquitoes so that their mating with females present in the wild does not produce young. But, “in the current context, the mosquito problem is only getting worse”comments Naoki Yamanaka, entomologist, in a press release. “To depend on a single tool to control populations would be recklessness. »

What the researchers hope to do here is develop chemicals that can specifically block the three ecdysone transporters identified in mosquitoes. This is enough to prevent them from maturing and therefore from reproducing. These chemicals, on the other hand, would not have any effect on other insects such asthe bees who would still have a protein – in fact, the most essential, according to the researchers’ list – to deliver the hormone to their cells.

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