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Fungus v Aedes aegypti: battle on

Scientists looking to combat the Zika virus are trying to “weaponise” a fungus called Metarhizium brunneum which has the happy knack of being able to eat mosquito larvae from the inside out, Wired reports. Research published in PLOS Pathogens has shown that the fungus spore sticks to the mosquito larva, then “eats its way through the exoskeleton and starts to grow, fast”. The larva itself helps the process by eating more spores, which work their way through its gut and into its body cavity. The fungus grows, destroying the larva from the inside. “The fungus actually attacks mosquitoes in two ways. One variety of the fungus spore, the conidium, is airborne — it attacks adult mosquitoes. The blastospore, though, does better underwater — that’s the one that attacks the larvae … [and] is so much more virulent than the conidium. Mosquitoes are now developing resistance to pesticides, but it’s harder to resist predators and parasites that are evolving right along with them. Metarhizium brunneum could be a crucial part of the arsenal [against Zika] — as long as it doesn’t spread so widely that it starts killing more than mosquitoes.”

Aussie heads WHO’s Health Emergencies program

Dr Peter Salama, a medical epidemiologist…

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