London: In a startling discovery that hasimplications for combating malaria, scientists have found thattwo strains of Africa`s most notorious malaria mosquito appearto be evolving into two genetically distinct species. The evolution means the insects could become immune tostrategies adopted to control malaria which kills thousands ofpeople around the world, especially in Asian and Africancountries.
According to the scientists, genetic differences betweenthe two strains, known as M and S, were scattered throughoutthe insects` DNA. The changes had occurred in areas likely to affectdevelopment, feeding behaviour, and reproduction, they said. A further study comparing the two strains showed theyseemed to be evolving differently. This was thought to be in response to differentenvironmental factors such as larval habitats, infectiousagents and predators. Co-author Professor George Christophides, also fromImperial College, said: "Malaria is a deadly disease thataffects millions of people across the world and amongstchildren in Africa, it causes one in every five deaths. "We know that the best way to reduce the number of peoplewho contract malaria is to control the mosquitoes that carrythe disease. "Our studies help us to understand the makeup of themosquitoes that transmit malaria, so that we can find new waysof preventing them from infecting people." The scientists detailed their findings in the journalScience.PTI
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