London: Stopping male mosquitoes from sealing their sperm inside females with a `mating plug` could prevent them from reproducing, potentially opening a new way to combat malaria, says a new study.
These mosquitoes mate only once in their lifetime, which means that disrupting the reproductive process offers a good way of dramatically reducing their populations. When they mate, the male transfers sperm to the female and then afterwards transfers a coagulated mass of proteins and seminal fluids known as a mating plug. This plug is not found in any other species of mosquito and until now, very little has been known about what it is for and the role it plays in Anopheles gambiae reproduction. The study authors have shown for the first time that the mating plug is essential for ensuring that sperm is correctly retained in the female`s sperm storage organ, from where she can fertilise eggs over the course of her lifetime. Without the mating plug, sperm is not stored correctly, and fertilisation cannot occur, says an Imperial College release. In Imperial`s mosquito labs, scientists showed it was possible to prevent the formation of the plug in males, and that this stopped them successfully reproducing with females. "Removing or interfering with the mating plug renders copulation ineffective. This discovery could be used to develop new ways of controlling populations of gambiae mosquitoes, to limit the spread of malaria," says Catteruccia. These findings were published in Tuesday`s edition of PLoS Biology. IANS
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