Researchers Develop Poisonous Spider Mushrooms to Eradicate Malaria Mosquitoes

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Posted on by Barbara H. Kozak

A group of researchers created a fungus that can remove spider poisons. This they do to fight mosquitoes that carry malaria . This mushroom called Metarhizium pinghaense can kill malaria mosquitoes without having to add poisons. In experiments carried out, they almost killed the entire population in 45 days.

“We use genes that encode a single poison, one of the many poisons in spider poisons,” Dr. Raymond St. Leger, an entomologist from the University of Maryland (UMD) was quoted as saying by the New York Post on Wednesday (6/12/2019).

He added, this genetically engineered mushroom made by UMD researchers and the Research Institute of Health Sciences in Burkina Faso, West Africa, has a toxin that has been approved as an insecticide. So that it is certainly not dangerous except for insects.

Raymond said that this fungus works like a contact insecticide because of its ability to penetrate insect skin. They tested it in an artificial village covered by a screen called ‘MosquitoSphere.’ The population of mosquitoes at the trial site runs out in 45 days. Raymond said, based on their calculations, the malaria mosquito would at least run out in two generations.

This poisonous mushroom is expected to be a new weapon in fighting malaria. “If it only reduces malaria transmission by five percent, that still means hundreds of thousands who get the benefits. We think it can be a little better than that,” Raymond was quoted as saying by NPR .

The fungus is known to basically infect mosquitoes. Even so, the rate of killing isn’t fast. “We want this mushroom to kill mosquitoes before spreading disease.” The spider poison used to kill blood-sucking insects is the same type as that produced by Australian Blue Mountains spiders. This type of animal is one of the most dangerous arachnids. Even so, critics argue that this fungus is feared to have a greater impact on the environment. “Mushrooms will be used to target mosquitoes that go into their homes and they don’t have many friends. We test fungi to make sure they don’t harm beneficial insects like bees.” In addition, this fungus is also claimed to not last long in the sun.

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