Mosquitoes are a source of constant frustration for some. Many people are confident that the world would be better off without them. But would it? Here are some interesting facts about mosquitoes and their relationship to humans.
Mosquitoes have guts to stand up to malaria.
Humans have a gut microbiome, a collection of microorganisms that live within the body and can have a large impact on a person’s health. Mosquitoes have a gut microbiome too. Blood usually improves the gut microbiome of a mosquito by helping the mosquito to ward off certain parasitic diseases, including malaria.
In a study to prevent the spread of malaria, scientists observed what happened after mosquitoes were fed blood that had been laced with antibiotics. They discovered that the antibiotics interfered with mosquitoes’ protective gut microbiome. As a result, the mosquitoes became more susceptible to malaria.
However, mosquitoes that were fed the blood with antibiotics were also more successful at sustaining more egg-laying females, laying more eggs and increasing survival rates. This is because the gut microbiome also takes a toll on the fitness of the mosquitoes.
This mosquito fact is interesting because it suggests that treating other diseases with antibiotics in certain regions may actually increase the spread of malaria.
They know how to stay with the times.
DNA is like a list of instructions that inform the different traits or characteristics of humans or animals. DNA sequences form genes. These genes are passed down from parents to their offspring.
In two separate studies, researchers analyzed the entire genomic sequence of 16 different species of mosquitoes. This means they looked at every single gene that makes up each of the 16 different mosquitoes. They discovered that mosquitoes rapidly evolve, sometimes losing entire gene sequences, while still gaining others that are likely to help them adapt to current times. These two studies and sets of facts about mosquitoes have a human impact.
According to one Nature article, one of the most recent genes they have acquired is the evolution of preference for human blood. Many mosquitoes prefer to feed on animals, but if these same evolutionary behaviors persist, there could be many more mosquitoes in the future with an appetite for humans.
This fact is interesting because it may help prevent disease. Scientists hope that genome research will provide a way for determining why certain mosquitoes are better at transmitting diseases than others.
As the popularity of genetically modified foods is losing wind, the idea of a genetically modified mosquito is gaining steam.
Some scientists now believe that they have the ability to annihilate mosquitoes through genetic modification. The process would involve the use of newly developed genome editing technology that allows scientist to edit DNA similar to the way that film editors once used to edit film.
Using facts about mosquitoes that are already known to them, scientists would cut a piece of DNA to replace an existing gene with a new one. The goal of the new gene would be to alter the mosquito population. In this case, the suggested alteration is to skew the mosquito population, shifting it to be around 95 percent male.
Male mosquitoes do not feed on blood and eliminating females would eventually limit mosquitoes’ abilities to reproduce. More than one million people die every year from mosquito-borne disease, making the idea of eliminating mosquitoes a popular one.
However, while scientists have proven that they can successfully alter the genes of certain mosquitoes, there is still large controversy over releasing these mosquitoes into the wild. Concerns have been raised about the impact on other animals. There are a number of animals that consume mosquitoes as food. Eliminating this food source could have a negative impact on the ecosystem.
Their fossils can be used to study the longevity of certain molecules in blood.
In 2013, researchers discovered the first ever fossil of a mosquito that had consumed a recent blood meal. Scientists tested the fossil for traces of heme, a compound containing iron that is found in blood, and were able to detect significant amounts. The discovery could possibly help scientists understand how long certain molecules can persist in blood. It might also suggest that mosquitoes have been around for longer than previously believed.
While they might be pests, these facts about mosquitoes shed some light on the large impact mosquitoes have on the lives of humans. Of course, most people would prefer to have less of a relationship with these bloodsuckers.
If you are patient, you can wait for researchers to argue over whether mosquitoes should exist or not. If you want mosquitoes out of your yard now, call Terminix®.