To tackle the menace of malaria, researchers have found a new way which targets the fertility of malaria-carrying mosquitoes.
Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes are the main carriers of malaria. The researchers interfered with the enzyme which is partly responsible for protecting the stored sperms in female Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, they fertilised fewer eggs and thus produced fewer offspring.
The females mate only once during their lives and store the sperm in an organ called the spermatheca. It is from here that the mosquitoes keep taking the sperm to fertilise their eggs. Enzyme called HPX15 partly helps in the protection of these sperms in the females.
Researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Perugia and Imperial College London think this method is an important step in fighting against malaria which affects around 200 million people annually.
Dr Robert Shaw, one of the lead authors of the research from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London, said, "Malaria kills over 650,000 people every year and we need to find new ways of tackling it, partly because mosquitoes continue to evolve ways of resisting our efforts. We are interested in cutting the numbers of malarial mosquitoes by impairing their ability to reproduce, and our new study suggests a way that we might be able to do this."
The female needs the sperm to remain healthy and after each blood-feed the mosquito reproduces.
The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.