ITHACA, N.Y., March 4 (UPI) -- U.S. scientists say they've discovered a protein that might lead to the development of insecticides that can disrupt a mosquito's renal system.
Cornell University scientists led by Professor Klaus Beyenbach said their experiments focused on Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that transmit dengue and yellow fever. The mosquitoes pick up diseases while feeding on infected hosts and then infect new hosts when they feed again. Currently, no vaccine or treatment protects against dengue, so the only way to stop its spread is by controlling mosquitoes.
The scientists identified a protein that appears to be involved in promoting urination as the insects feed on blood. When mosquitoes consume and process blood meals, they must urinate to prevent fluid and salt overloads that can kill them, as well as shed weight to be able to fly away, the scientists said.
"Thus, blocking the function of this protein in natural populations of mosquitoes may limit their ability to survive the physiological stresses of a blood meal and to further transmit viruses," researcher Peter Piermarini said.
The study that also included Laura Grogan, Kenneth Lau and Li Wang is reported in the American Journal of Physiology -- Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology.