General, Research, Technology

How do malaria mosquitoes detect dangerous chemicals and save themselves from death?

According to the World Health Organization,in 2017, at least 219 million people from different parts of our planet fell ill with malaria. This deadly disease spreads through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes and is accompanied by fever, an enlarged spleen, and other severe symptoms. To reduce mortality from this disease, scientists have already developed effective vaccines that have successfully passed clinical trials. However, mosquito nets still remain one of the best means of protection against infection. They not only prevent insects from entering the premises, but also kill them with a mixture of various poisons. However, mosquitoes quickly develop resistance to them, but recently, scientists have managed to uncover the secret of their method of protection.

Malaria mosquitoes quickly develop chemical resistance

About how malaria mosquitoes escape fromapplied to mosquito nets of poisons, was told in an article by the scientific journal Nature. Researchers from the English city of Liverpool, led by Professor Hilary Ranson, conducted several experiments that tracked how female malaria mosquitoes react to various chemicals. In particular, a group of scientists studied their reaction to pyrethroid and piperonyl butoxide, which are often used to process mosquito nets.

Why are mosquitoes not afraid of chemicals?

The researchers explained that the substance undercalled pyrethroid has a nerve-paralytic effect on mosquitoes, that is, deprives insects of the ability to move. The second substance, referred to as piperonyl butoxide, is used together with the first to enhance its action and eliminate substances that can neutralize it. Such a mixture seems to be a very powerful weapon against malaria mosquitoes, but they somehow manage to develop resistance to it in a very short time.

This is what anopheles malaria mosquito looks like

Having studied the reaction of mosquitoes to the totality of thesesubstances in the laboratory, scientists quickly discovered the protective mechanism of insects. It turned out that when approaching toxic substances in mosquitoes, a protein called SAP2 begins to be actively produced. It is found in most insects and arthropods and is produced on sensitive surfaces of limbs, allowing you to feel potentially life-threatening substances from afar. Since nets with chemicals are used very often in Africa and other countries with widespread malaria, mosquitoes quickly learned how to make protective proteins and avoid dangerous surfaces.

Do you know how mosquitoes changed the world?

To test the results of the study, scientistsdeprived some mosquitoes of the ability to produce SAP2 protein. After that, the individuals participating in the experiments ceased to feel poisonous surfaces and quickly sat on the treated mosquito nets. If scientists accelerated the production of SAP2 protein in mosquitoes, they did not even come close to the nets.

If you are interested in the news of science and technology, subscribe to our channel in Yandex. Dzen. There you will find materials that have not been published on the site!

Thanks to the new discovery of scientists, manufacturersmosquito nets will be able to change the composition of toxic substances applied to them. Only now, over time, mosquitoes will probably be able to develop resistance to the new composition of chemicals. In theory, this problem can be solved by adding a substance to the mixture that blocks the production of SAP2 protein. There is a possibility that due to this the insects will no longer feel the danger and, as before, will die by touching the surface of mosquito nets.