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Killing the Aedes aegypti mosquito using roundworms

Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro
BiologyMedicineGrant: Zika VirusGrant: Zika Virus
Raised of $4,600 Goal
Ended on 5/19/16
Campaign Ended
  • $295
  • 7%
  • Finished
    on 5/19/16

About This Project

The A. aegypti mosquito is the main vector for dengue and zika viruses. This mosquito has developed resistance to common insecticides. We've shown that a species of roundworm is able to kill 85-100% of mosquito larvae in the lab. As a follow-up study we need to submit the roundworm to an “acid test” to verify its efficacy in urban settings. If the roundworm passes the test this could be an easy and cheap method to control mosquito populations and prevent the spread of dengue and zika viruses.

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What is the context of this research?

Aedes aegypti is the most important mosquito to public health worldwide because it is the main vector for major pathogens including dengue and zika viruses. Dengue afflicts over 400 million people every year(1)(2). Health officials use insecticides to control the mosquito population, but A. aegypti has developed insecticide-resistance(3).

We know that entomo-pathogenic nematodes (EPNs) are effective at controlling a range of insect pests in agricultural and urban settings(4). During a nematode survey in the Atlantic Forest of Brazil, we isolated EPNs from bromeliads, which is often where female mosquitoes lay their eggs.

Our hypothesis is these EPNs could be valuable to reduce A. aegypti population in urban settings and the incidence of dengue and zika worldwide.

What is the significance of this project?

Our research group discovered that some EPNs are pathogenic to mosquito larvae, this includes the nematode Heterorhabditis indica LPP35(5). Our studies in the lab and in the field identified some parameters that determine the efficacy of H. indica LP35 at killing the mosquito larvae.

In our studies the nematode killed 85-100% of the mosquito larvae when introduced to containers of different sizes and shapes that mimic natural mosquito oviposition sites(6).

This project is a natural follow-up study. We must submit H. indica LPP35 to a "acid test" to confirm its efficacy at killing the mosquito larvae under natural field conditions.

What are the goals of the project?

The goal of this project is to assess the efficacy of H. indica LPP35 at killing mosquito larvae in a range of field situations.

Discarded tires, plastic and glass pots and bottles of different sizes and shapes will be set outdoors to mimic typical mosquito ovipositing sites. These containers will receive different amounts of mosquito larvae or be left to be visited by egg-laying female mosquitoes. The EPN will be introduced to the containers and its efficacy at killing the larvae will be assessed a few days later.

A voile fabric attached to the containers will prevent the emergence of adult mosquitoes should the larvae evade infection by the nematode. This assay will be repeated throughout the seasons for 1 year to assess the EPN efficacy in a range of mean air temperatures.


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A laboratory/field helper will be essential to help us set mosquito traps; collect mosquito eggs and larvae; prepare insect diet for rearing the entomopathogenic nematode; and set the field experiments.

The efficacy of the bioagent will be assessed in a range of containers that make perfect breeding grounds for the mosquito.

We´ll need to purchase gasoline and food while setting experiments in the city.

The nematode pathogenic to A. aegypti is reared in laboratory-grown honeycomb moth (Galleria mellonela) or mealworm beetle (Tenebrio molitor). Larval stages are fed with artificial diet and infected with the nematode. Upon death, the larvae serve as breeding ground for the nematode. Hundreds of thousands of nematodes are obtained from each infected larva.

Some laboratory items will be necessary in the laboratory and in the field.

New cultures of Galleria mellonela and Tenebrio molitor will be purchased for nematode rearing

Endorsed by

Ricardo and Claudia, with unquestionable expertise on entomopathogenic nematodes issues, are proposing a short-term research project that represents an essential, non-postponable step in the search for a sustainable and efficient tool for the management of the mosquito Aedes aegypti in Brazil. The methodology design is supported by previous/recent studies dealing with the subject and fit well the requirements predicted for an insect control program under urban settings.
Dr. Claudia Dolinski and Dr. Ricardo Souza, my colleagues for more than 20 years, are leading experts worldwide in nematode studies including as they relate to biodiversity, behavior, development, agriculture and biocontrol. The project herein proposed is ideally suited to their combined skills and expertise such that in their hands I am confident of the success of this important study. Clearly, the work has significant and urgent practical applications. It is well-designed and modest in cost. I strongly endorse its support. J G Baldwin
Successful biological control of mosquitos has eluded the scientific world for long and even a small success would be a huge step forward. This is an exciting project with much to gain.
I have served as a reviewer of several research papers on entomopathogenic nematodes by Claudia Dolinski and find her research to be done well. The mosquito, Aedes aegypt,i is one of the main vectors of the Zika virus and the proposed research using these nematodes may prove to be useful in reducing the adult mosquito populations with subsequent reduction in the incidence of Zika virus in humans. Richard Souza and Claudia research will show whether this approach is feasible or not.
Using parasites or pathogens as targeted biological control agents is gaining support as a viable method for controlling pests in recent years. This project seeks to utilize nematodes which are pathogenic to larval mosquitoes as a control method for the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the main vector of Zika virus and dengue in urban areas. Dr. Souza and Dr. Dolinski have already shown the promise of these nematodes for controlling larval mosquitoes in lab settings, and this project will allow them to test whether the nematode parasites can also control larval mosquitoes in field settings. This project is exciting, as it makes use of a naturally occurring parasite the mosquitoes already co-occur with in their natural environment as a means for controlling adult mosquito populations, which has major implications for controlling Zika outbreaks in urban areas.
This project builds upon previous research carried out by the proposing team on the study of nematodes as a tool to control populations of larval mosquitoes. This is a really interesting and creative initiative. The study is particularly well thought through.

Meet the Team

Ricardo M. Souza
Ricardo M. Souza


Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro
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Claudia Dolinski
Claudia Dolinski


Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense Darcy Ribeiro
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Ricardo M. Souza

I´m a professor and scientist at UENF, a state university in Brazil. My research focuses on roundworms that are parasitic on plants as well as free-living forms that live in the tropical rain forest.

In the rain forest we`ve studied the ecology of roundworms that live inside bromeliads (1,2,3). With support from Experiment, we´ve applied a roundworm discovered in the rain forest to control de mosquito Aedes aegypti (see the project here ). You can see our laboratory, research team and publications here.

In addition to my university duties, I´ve served for two terms (2013-2019) as the president of the Brazilian Nematological Society, and I´m the founder of the NGO Amigos which campaings for public awareness of kidney diseases and provides multi-professional assistance to kidney patients.

Claudia Dolinski

I´ve always worked with roundworms. Recently I discovered their ability to kill insects and I 've been working with them as biocontrol agents of agricultural
and urban pests.
I believe we can lower the adult mosquito population if we focus on the larval stage. So far, our results showed great control, but we still need to check if the agents will survive and infect the mosquito larvae in places where they are normally found.
Roundworms can be a wonderful tool, if we know how to manage them.

Additional Information

Project Backers

  • 7Backers
  • 7%Funded
  • $295Total Donations
  • $42.14Average Donation
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