How comparative physiology may save us from mosquitoes

Until now I thought I had come up with enough reasons to dislike mosquitoes, those tiny little blood sucking vectors of disease. With reports of the debilitating mosquito-borne virus chikungunya in the Americas (Carribean), I was ecstatic hear that researchers are working hard to find ways to control mosquito populations. As mentioned in a previous blog, only the females bite to obtain nourishment for developing eggs. According to the study authors, the female mosquito can double her own body weight after just one meal, which would understandably pose a problem for flight. To take care of the excess water and salt, her body releases a diuretic hormone that quickly results in a large production of urine. This means that the unsuspecting victim may get peed on while being bitten, elevating the yuck factor of mosquitoes.

A team of Comparative Physiologists led by Dr. Klaus Beyenbach (College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University) in collaboration with Dr. Peter Piermarini (The Ohio State University) have published new research in the American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology  that capitalizes on this response. They are testing chemicals that modulate potassium (K) channels in the mosquito kidney in an effort to block the diuretic response to feeding. VU573 is one chemical that they tested which successfully blocked the release of the diuretic hormone, thereby causing kidney failure. The goal is to develop mosquitocides that specifically target mosquitoes without harming other insects or animals.

Sources:

Hine RM, Rouhier MF, Park ST, Qi Z, Piermarini PM, Beyenbach KW. The excretion of NaCl and KCl loads in mosquitoes: 1. Control data. American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. Epub ahead of print. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00105.2014

Rouhier MF, Hine RM, Park ST, Raphemot R, Denton JS, Piermarini PM, Beyenbach KW. The excretion of NaCl and KCl loads in mosquitoes: 2. Effects of the small molecule Kir channel modulator VU573 and its inactive analog VU342. American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology Epub ahead of print. DOI: 10.1152/ajpregu.00106.2014

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I do agree that mosquitoes are a persistent nuisance and I really wish there was an efficient and specific way to deter them. With that being said, nature and our history has taught us that there really is no way to eliminate any part of nature's cycle without some type of consequence. It would be amazing to see if there is anything out there that can prove to deter mosquitoes without actually impacting any part of any other ecosystem negatively.

http://westnile.ca.gov/website/mosq_control/Mosquito_Control_Pesticides…
http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/faq/mosquitoControl.html

By miketosis (not verified) on 24 Sep 2014 #permalink

I also agree that mosquitoes are the most annoying insects but if we eradicate them completely, we maybe also eliminate a possible cure for Alzheimer’s, Cancer or another disease. Scientist regularly discovers things that annoy us held the cure to a debilitating diseases.

By George B Dunn (not verified) on 10 Apr 2015 #permalink

I also agree that mosquitoes are the most annoying insects but if we eradicate them completely, we maybe also eliminate a possible cure for Alzheimer’s, Cancer or another disease. Scientist regularly discovers things that annoy us held the cure to a debilitating disease.

By George B Dunn (not verified) on 10 Apr 2015 #permalink

Since malaria killed more people people than both world wars combined, I would rather hope scientist eradicae all mosquitoes .

I feel a little apprehensive with science manipulating nature because even with the best intentions the most devastating ventures started out of good intentions like the killer bee that was developed to create a bee that produce abundant supply of honey but in the end do create lots of honey but nobody nearby will live to eat it.

Mosquitoes might be of great importance in discovering a cure for AIDS. Even though female mosquitoes drink blood, they are unable to transmit AIDS. They digest the virus, destroying particles that could potentially produce an infection. If they can digest these virus particles, can their digestive enzymes not help to find a way to destroy these virus particles in humans as well? Maybe their numbers can be controlled instead of eliminating them completely.

By Chanelle Olivi… (not verified) on 18 Apr 2015 #permalink

A very merrit argument. My first thought is that mosquitoes is just annoying but Chanelle's comment shows that we must not make hasty decisions that will effect our future health and wellbeing.

I never thought that this problem can actually be a cure to another debilitating deadly disease.