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Mother Nature to provide an environmentally friendly method for reducing mosquitoes
Date:7/21/2010

A scientific breakthrough might assist in the fight against mosquitoes. New research carried out at the University of Haifa in collaboration with researchers from other universities has chemically identified, for the first time, compounds released by mosquitoes' natural aquatic predators that function as warning signals for egg laying mosquitoes. Introducing these natural chemicals into mosquito breeding sites will cause the mosquitoes to sense risk of predation to their progeny and avoid laying their eggs there. These findings will soon be published in the prestigious journal Ecology Letters.

Ecologists and evolutionary biologists have known for a long time that many prey species can detect predators chemically and, upon detection, take various actions to avoid being eaten or avoid having their progeny eaten. Yet, the chemical identity of the predator-released chemicals has remained elusive. Knowing the chemical identity of these compounds would greatly facilitate scientists' understanding of predator-prey relationships and the importance of these compounds in affecting ecological communities. They may also provide an eco-friendly alternative for mosquito control.

The new breakthrough research, funded by the Israel Science Foundation, was developed in Prof. Leon Blaustein's laboratory at the University of Haifa. Prof. Blaustein's research partners comprised a multi-disciplinary group: Alon Silberbush, a doctoral student, Dr. Shai Markman, a chemical ecologist from University of Haifa-Oranim, Dr. Efraim Lewinsohn and Einat Bar, chemists at the Newe Yaar Research Center, and Prof. Joel E. Cohen, a mathematical and population biologist at Rockefeller and Columbia Universities.

Previous research from Blaustein's lab demonstrated that the mosquito, Culiseta longiareolata, chemically detects a voracious predator of its progeny in the water, the backswimmer, Notonecta maculata, and avoids laying eggs where the pre
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Contact: Rachel Feldman
rfeldman@univ.haifa.ac.il
972-482-88722
University of Haifa
Source:Eurekalert

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