Thursday, February 3, 2011

A new mosquito...

Most cases of malaria in Africa are transmitted by Anopheles gambiae. Now, scientists in Burkina Faso have identified a new subgroup of the mosquito species, one that remained undiscovered because most collections of mosquitos for study are made indoors. This particular subgroup does not rest inside dwellings after biting.


In this study, larvae were collected from breeding pools. Given the arid nature of the environment, sampling larvae breeding pools give an unbiased sample--something impossible with other methods. When the larvae were analyzed, the researchers found that some of them belonged to a distinct subgroup of the mosquito.

On further investigation, it was found that one of the features that set them apart was that they were much more susceptible to infection by the malaria parasite. No one is quite sure what this means in an epidemiological context, as the spread of the disease depends on a lot more than just the vector's susceptibility...

(Yes, it involved bugs and diseases. I couldn't resist.)

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