Starving mosquito larvae boosts their ability to transmit viruses
Eat your greens to grow up big and strong. It’s a rule that applies throughout the animal kingdom. So in lab experiments studying mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika virus, larvae are fed well to produce robust adults for tests. But nutrition in the wild is more variable; might this affect an insect’s capacity to transmit disease later in life? Researchers compared infection in well-fed mosquitoes and those raised on a meagre diet. Zika virus establishes in the midgut, but then must escape to other tissues before it can be transmitted to humans. Researchers examined infection (red) in midguts from nourished (bottom) and starved (top) mosquitoes 7, 9, and 11 days after infection (left to right). Although virus replication was reduced in starved mosquitoes, it spread around the body more easily, showing that a stressful upbringing can boost transmission potential, which may affect future mosquito – and virus – control strategies.
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