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Tulane to create new mosquito diet

Staff writer ▼ | November 17, 2015
Tulane University has been awarded a $100,000 grant to develop an artificial mosquito diet so female insects in research colonies don’t have to feast on human or animal blood to reproduce.
Artificial mosquito diet   Tulane University has been awarded a $100,000 grant
Dawn Wesson, associate professor of tropical medicine at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, said the artificial diet will help researchers studying diseases such as malaria, West Nile or dengue fever.

The fake blood can be used to grow or maintain adult mosquito colonies where fresh blood isn’t available, allowing scientists to breed large numbers of mosquitoes for research purposes, she said.

“Adult females need blood to produce eggs. 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 grant comes from the Grand Challenges Explorations fund, a $100 million initiative by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help solve persistent global health and development challenges.

Launched in 2008, it has supported more than 1,160 projects in more than 60 countries. Initial grants of $100,000 are awarded twice a year, and successful projects can receive a secondary grant of up to $1 million.