Meet the scientists who research mosquitoes by feeding them their own blood

vl urkr kx
Credit: Perran Ross

The colony was picky — it wouldn’t feed on anesthetized mice or drink from a container covered with a membrane. These mosquitoes retained their behavior from the wild: They wanted blood straight from a human, and only in darkness. So [researcher Sam] Rund would feed them for about 15 minutes at a time. He’s a pro at it now; after the first two months of feeding mosquitoes, his body got used to it.

“Once you’ve blood-fed enough mosquitoes for a long enough period, you become tolerized, so your immune system, kind of, stops overreacting,” Rund said.

For researchers investigating how mosquitoes spread deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya, laboratory protocols sometimes involve “donating” blood to the cause. And the cause is urgent — mosquito-borne pathogens kill millions of people annually all over the world.

ADVERTISEMENT
Follow the latest news and policy debates on agricultural biotech and biomedicine? Subscribe to our newsletter.
[Doctoral student Veronica] Jové and her colleagues have found that there are four essential ingredients in blood that mosquitoes go after: sodium chloride; adenosine triphosphate, which is the molecule of energy produced by cellular mitochondria; sodium bicarbonate, which is a major buffer in blood; and blood glucose. Based on the activity of sensory neurons in that sharp stylet, it appears they are more interested in the salty component of blood than the sweet, but all of these flavors combine to create the taste that female mosquitoes go after.

Related article:  Will schools maintain immunization requirements as vaccination rates plunge?

Read the original post

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
GLP Podcasts
Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Infographic: Here’s where GM crops are grown around the world today

Do you know where biotech crops are grown in the world? This updated ISAAA infographics show where biotech crops were ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
glp menu logo outlined

Newsletter Subscription

* indicates required
Email Lists
Send this to a friend