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Mosquitoes can't spot a spermless mate
Date:8/8/2011

echanisms. This study strongly suggests that they cannot tell the difference between a fertile and a spermless mate."

Co-author Professor Charles Godfray, from the University of Oxford Department of Zoology, said: "This is an exciting time with modern genetics providing a series of new ideas about how to control the major insect vectors of human disease, including the mosquito Anopheles gambiae - perhaps the single most dangerous insect species for mankind. A number of these techniques involve disrupting natural mating patterns and to get these to work a really good understanding of mosquito mating and reproduction is essential."

After mating for the first and only time in her life, the female mosquito undergoes certain physiological changes, then eats a blood meal and lays a batch of eggs. In the new experiments, the researchers observed that this behaviour was the same regardless of whether or not the mating encounter had produced fertilised eggs that could hatch into mosquito larvae.

The scientists were also surprised to discover that after mating with a spermless male, the female made no attempt to find a supplementary mate, effectively missing out on the opportunity to reproduce and pass on her genes. They expected to find that the species had evolved a mechanism so that females could avoid or bypass sterile males. For example, female fruit flies can mate with more than one male, helping to ensure their eggs are fertilised.

The scientists produced 100 spermless males for the study by injecting ordinary mosquito eggs with a protein that disrupted the development of their testes and prevented them from producing sperm in adulthood. Importantly, this did not interfere with any other sexual function or behaviours in either the female or the male.

They reached their conclusions after isolating mating mosquito couples in the laboratory and closely observing their behaviour and physiology during key stages of reprod
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Contact: Simon Levey
s.levey@imperial.ac.uk
44-207-594-6702
Imperial College London
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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