Biologists have learned to track mosquitoes

(ORDO NEWS) — It is impossible to catch and ring a mosquito, and more jewelry tools are required to investigate their distribution. American scientists have proposed using DNA tags placed inside protein crystals for this.

As you know, mosquitoes are the most dangerous animals on the planet. Because of them, orders of magnitude more people die than from poisonous snakes, sharks or wolves combined.

The main danger associated with mosquitoes is the diseases that they carry, primarily malaria.

To better understand how these infections spread, it is helpful to understand how the insects themselves travel, how fast and how far.

However, the mosquito is not a bird: even if you manage to fix a microscopic ring on the leg, the chances of catching the same insect in a few days or weeks are negligible.

To monitor them, they try to use more “massive” and complex methods, including treatment with a special powder that fluoresces in ultraviolet rays.

But this method is not very reliable, besides, the luminous powder can affect the fate of insects and their chances of survival, distorting the results obtained.

So a team of biologists at Colorado State University came up with a new approach to tracking mosquitoes.

Biologists have learned to track mosquitoes 2
General scheme of a new way to mark and track mosquitoes

As labels, scientists chose short DNA fragments, in which, like in an inscription on a bird ring, all the necessary information can be encoded.

And their protective “containers” are crystals of the isoprenoid-binding protein CJ of campylobacter C. jejuni.

These structures are highly stable and contain pores of a suitable diameter, approximately 13 nanometers.

The DNA-loaded protein crystals were added to the food fed to the mosquito larvae. Experiments have confirmed that such marks are retained and found in the intestines of already adult insects.

To isolate DNA from crystals, it is enough to place them in a solution containing ATP. After that, it remains to read its sequence using the usual polymerase chain reaction.

Scientists have been testing the new method in the field over the past three years, at various locations within the state of Colorado.

Now they are planning to conduct experiments in tropical countries, where the problem with mosquitoes is particularly acute.

In addition, they are interested in the question of why CJ protein crystals persist in the stomach of insects for so long.


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