24 May 2007
Human pathogens transmitted by mosquitoes represent a major global health problem. An international research effort led by The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) has sequenced the Aedes aegypti mosquito genome, with the first draft published in Science Express this month [Nene V. et al. (2007) Science May 17; DOI: 10.1126/science.1138878].
In the same way that the 2002 release of the genome sequence of the Anopheles gambiae mosquito, the major insect vector for malaria, was an important step towards new approaches to control of malaria, the much larger A.aegypti genome is expected to be valuable in developing strategies against the human diseases yellow fever and dengue fever. In particular, researchers hope to learn more about the interactions between the mosquito vectors and the pathogenic viruses they carry, and looking for opportunities to engineer virus-resistant mosquitoes. Lead investigator Dr Nene commented: With more than half a million cases of dengue fever which is endemic in at least 100 countries and more than 30,000 deaths from yellow fever each year, clearly understanding the biology of the vector for these two worldwide killers is essential to eradicating these diseases” (see press release).