With more than 1,200 described species, Culex is the most diverse and geographically widespread of the three mosquito genera. The adult mosquito measures 4-10 millimeters. Only females spread disease. Culex-transmitted diseases, such as West Nile virus, are difficult to eradicate because birds and animals the mosquito feeds on are mobile, capable of spreading disease quickly over large areas.
West Nile virus first appeared in the United States in the summer of 1999. Since then it has been found in all 48 contiguous states.
The research paper in Science is accompanied by a second paper, led by researchers at Boston College, Mass., and Iowa State University, that focuses on a set of immune genes in Culex quinquefasciatus. The paper explores why some of these genes are "upregulated" (show an increase in gene expression) while others are "downregulated" in response to pathogens. Arensburger, Atkinson and Raikhel are coauthors on the companion paper in the same issue of Science on Culex immunobiology with Raikhel's laboratory contributing significantly to this work.
With the sequencing of the Culex quinquefasciatus genome completed, UCR researchers will focus next on genes of particular interest to efforts aimed at preventing the spread of human diseases by these mosquitoes.
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California -- Riverside