Interfering in mosquitoes’ sex lives could help halt the spread of malaria, British scientists said on Tuesday.
A study on the species of mosquito mainly responsible for malaria transmission in Africa, Anopheles gambiae, showed that because these mosquitoes mate only once in their lives, meddling with that process could dramatically cut their numbers.
Researchers from Imperial College London found that a “mating plug” used by male mosquitoes to ensure their sperm stays in the right place in the female is essential for her to be able to fertilize eggs during her lifetime. …
“The plug plays an important role in allowing the female to successfully store sperm in the correct way inside her, and as such is vital for successful reproduction,” Flaminia Catteruccia of Imperial’s life sciences department wrote.
“Removing or interfering with the mating plug renders copulation ineffective. This discovery could be used to develop new ways of controlling populations of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, to limit the spread of malaria.”