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UCR entomologists to develop special bacteria to combat spread of mosquito-borne diseases
Date:6/14/2010

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Roughly half the world's population still lives in areas at risk of malaria transmission. Even in the United States, 1500 cases of malaria are reported annually on average.

One way to curtail the spread of malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases is to decrease the number of mosquitoes.

Now a five-year, $1.86 million grant to the University of California, Riverside from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will help entomologists come closer to realizing this goal, potentially benefiting millions of people worldwide.

Brian Federici, the principal investigator of the renewal grant, and colleagues will use the new funding to continue their work on developing genetically engineered bacteria for killing mosquitoes specifically, mosquito larvae.

"Most new tactics today that use genetic engineering technology target a single species of mosquito," said Federici, a distinguished professor of entomology. "Our solution, however, is aimed at an enormous number of mosquito species, including those responsible for malaria, West Nile, dengue fever and filariasis."

Certain bacteria bear proteins that are highly toxic to only mosquitoes. In collaboration with industry, Federici's lab already has examined two different strains of such bacteria Bacillus sphaericus (Bs) and Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and engineered their mosquito-killing properties into a single new bacterial strain.

"This recombinant Bt/Bs strain is about ten times more effective than either one of the strains we used to combine the properties, and it is environmentally safe," he said. "Further, our recombinant is far more effective than bacterial strains used in commercially available products today."

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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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