NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Researchers at Tulane University are going to work to develop an artificial mosquito diet so female insects don't have to feast on human or animal blood in order to reproduce.
"Adult females need blood to produce eggs," Associate Professor Dawn Wesson said. "It's a really good source of protein for egg production. So the key is finding some type of protein that will still result in viable egg production, but that is also appetizing to mosquitoes. The other key is to make it inexpensive, not reliant on refrigeration and shelf stable for months to years."
The university says Wesson and a doctoral student will work on creating an artificial diet that other researchers can use to grow or maintain adult mosquito colonies where fresh blood isn't available. If it works, Tulane University says it will allow scientists to breed large numbers of mosquitoes for research purposes.
The work is being funded by a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant awarded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.