Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Fungus Which Kills Mosquitos ... and Everything Else #Science #Satire

How about that bit of biological glory, mates.  This fungus really hates disease-bearing mosquitos and the fungus even comes in day-glo colors.

Malaria kills nearly half a million people every year, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In some of the hardest-hit areas in sub-Saharan Africa, the mosquitoes that carry the malaria parasite have become resistant to traditional chemical insecticides, complicating efforts to fight the disease.

A new study from the University of Maryland and colleagues from Burkina Faso, China and Australia suggests that a mosquito-killing fungus genetically engineered to produce spider and scorpion toxins could serve as a highly effective biological control mechanism to fight malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The fungus is specific to mosquitoes and does not pose a risk to humans. Further, the study results suggest that the fungus is also safe for honey bees and other insects. The study was published online in the journal Scientific Reports on June 13, 2017.  Mosquito-killing fungi engineered with spider and scorpion toxins could help fight malaria

Oh, gee, silly me ... I might have left out the caption for the photograph.

This composite image shows a dead female Anopheles gambiae mosquito covered in the mosquito-killing fungus Metarhizium pingshaense, which has been engineered to produce spider and scorpion toxins. The fungus is also engineered to express a green fluorescent protein for easy identification of the toxin-producing fungal structures. Credit: Brian Lovett

- PO

Happy day since the GMO Fungus is here and, even better, it's been made even more toxic than before plus it comes in lovely designer colors.  The scientific bug crafters in this case did not settle for secondary toxins but rather went for the best ones from spiders and scorpions so who cannot admire that kind of flexibility.

Watson:  what stops this fungus from killing and eating everything else?

Well, funny you should mention that, mate.

When Lovett, St. Leger and their colleagues inserted the toxin genes into the Metarhizium fungus, they included an additional failsafe: a highly specific promoter sequence, or genetic "switch," which ensures that the toxin genes can only be activated in the blood of insects. As a result, the fungus will not release the toxin into the environment.

. PO

Watson:  any genetic switch can be turned back off again!

Right and that's the funny part; it already did.  It wasn't so funny for frogs and other amphibians since you may have heard of the massive die-offs within those populations but researchers could not figure out why it was happening.  That's because it was this fungus and they ate all the evidence before they moved on to kill again.  It was highly-colorful with all the day-glo colors, however.

Watson:  but it won't affect humans?

Well, that's what they told the frogs, wasn't it.

My friend was advising earlier that a picture of the White House with coal smokestacks coming out of it was satire but Trump bashing is still just Trump bashing.  Satire comes from the One True God, Kurt Vonnegut Jr, since this article knocks off his idea of Ice-9 which was the type of water which instantly froze and caused all water around it to freeze thereby demonstrating the molecular equivalent of a social network.

Satire is when the One True God does it and satire becomes something else when some cheesehead in Texas (i.e. me) knocks it off to pretend he came up with the idea although many of y'all believed it about the GMO marijuana-eating rabbits which escaped in Tennessee.  Vonnegut didn't come up with that one (takes a humble bow).

Note:  I won't tag an article with #Science along unless it's straight-up.  That situation is binary since it is or it ain't and we have rules around here for what is, see.

If there are any heretics out there who question the One True Godliness of Kurt Vonnegut Jr, I have Henry James in the background and I'll be rolling every cannon to respond, of course, in the most peaceful possible way.  (WIKI:  Henry James)

Ed:  he's not the one with the horn!

Not exactly, mate.

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