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Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Fungus makes Mosquitoes vulnerable to Malaria

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Mosquitoes that are infected by fungus are more vulnerable towards malaria parasite. A recent research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reported it recently. Mosquitoes like humans are continuously get exposed to different kinds of microorganisms, and among these fungi with bacteria can affect the health of mosquitoes.

Previously, researchers have identified that bacteria prevent the parasite to be taken up by the mosquitoes, but the recent research has turned the table. This is the first time they have found that mosquitoes instead become much vulnerable to be infected with malaria parasite. The findings were published in September 28th 2016 in Scientific reports.

"This very common, naturally occurring fungus may have a significant impact on malaria transmission: It doesn't kill the mosquitoes, it doesn't make them sick, it just makes them more likely to become infected and thereby to spread the disease," says the study's leader George Dimopoulos, PhD, MBA, a professor in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School and a deputy director of its Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. "While this fungus is unlikely to be helpful as part of a malaria control strategy, our finding significantly advances our knowledge of the different factors that influence the transmission of malaria." (from press release)

Dimopoulos and his colleagues isolated Penicillium chrysogenum fungus which is the same fungus which produces penicillin, from the gut of Anopheles mosquitoes (field caught). They identified that its presence made mosquitoes susceptible to take up the parasite as vector. Fungus here plays a role to compromise the immune system and allowing the parasite much easy access to infect.

"We have questions we hope this finding will help us to answer including why do we have increased transmission of malaria in some areas and not others when the presence of mosquitoes is the same," Dimopoulos says. "This gives us another piece of the complicated malaria puzzle."

Source: News Medical


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