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Key to Controlling Mosquitoes May Reside in Their Gut Microbiota

Image of mosquito larvae courtesy of Adobe Stock
Like many other mosquito species, the common house mosquito requires certain vitamins to grow. These nutrients are extremely unstable in aquatic environments, and UGA researchers have found that gut microbes have to produce these components continuously in order for organisms like mosquito larvae to develop. Image of mosquito larvae courtesy of Adobe Stock.
To most people, mosquitoes are a nuisance. To University of Georgia entomologist Michael Strand, learning about their development processes could lead to new approaches in mosquito control. “What our study brought home is that vitamin instability is a key factor in why aquatic organisms like mosquitoes are so dependent on their gut microbiota,” said Professor Strand.

Mosquito larvae develop in small, aquatic habitats like abandoned tires, birdbaths, or flowerpots that can range from abundant and nutrient complete to poor. Regardless of how they get nutrients to grow, mosquitoes and most other animals, including humans, harbor microorganisms in their digestive tracts to form what is called the gut microbiota.

Mosquitoes cannot grow normally beyond the larval stage without a gut microbiota, even when fed nutritionally complete diets. The research for this study was supported by the National Institutes of Health, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Hatch Project, and the Pulliam endowment. For more information, read this University of Georgia Newswire article.

 
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