Some mosquitoes building resistance to pesticides, UCR study finds
By Shane Newell
Efforts to kill mosquitoes have caused the irritating, disease-carrying pests to evolve and become more resistant to pesticides, UC Riverside researchers have found.
Colince Kamdem, a UCR postdoctoral scholar, looked at the Anopheles mosquito species, whose females are notorious for feasting on blood and spreading malaria, in a study published online Jan. 1 in the “Trends in Parasitology” journal.
UC Riverside postdoctoral scholar Colince Kamdem researched the link between pesticides and mosquitoes. Courtesy photo
His article, “Human Interventions: Driving Forces of Mosquito Evolution,” also featured contributions from UCR’s Caroline Fouet, a postdoctoral researcher, and UCR entomology professor Peter Atkinson.
The team learned that mosquitoes are adapting on the genetic level to ward off the effects of pesticides used to fight the insects known for spreading malaria, West Nile virus and a whole crop of other nasty illnesses. Furthermore, some mosquitoes are learning to steer clear of pesticides altogether.
His research focused solely on Anopheles mosquitoes taken from Africa. However, he said there’s a good chance the research findings also apply to Anopheles mosquitoes in the United States.
In analyzing mosquito genetics, Kamdem said one of the most important things he learned is that the species has a rich genetic diversity.
“This is really what makes mosquitoes so efficient in adapting to different environments,” he said.
Kamdem traveled to his native Cameroon, a country bordering Nigeria in West Africa, to collect dead mosquitoes to bring back to the United States for his research. It took him about seven months to complete the study.
Kamdem also uncovered some encouraging findings.
For example, the fact that mosquitoes are becoming more resistant to insecticides also means they are living shorter lives and having a harder time spreading deadly parasites, Kamdem said.