Virginia Tech® home

Finding new ways to control mosquitoes through sleep-deprivation

Loading player for
Category: research Video duration: Finding new ways to control mosquitoes through sleep-deprivation
Diseases spread by mosquitoes cause hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. Assistant professor of biochemistry, Clément Vinauger, is researching how sleep-deprivation in mosquitoes could help control the spread of these diseases.
We are looking into mosquitoes' sleep like behaviors. And the idea is to find more ways, new ways to control mosquitoes and disrupt their ability to find us and transmitted diseases. Sleep is very important for animals. Even for us. And that's a mechanism, a physiological mechanism that we use to recover and rest and recuperate our energy from the day. The same is true for insects. And insects. We know a lot about sleeping in flies and fruit flies, but in mosquitoes that has been largely ignored and overlooked. And what we found so far we have data showing that mosquitoes do sleep, their brain activity slows down. And what we found also is that when mosquitoes are sleep-deprived, then their ability to track us down is impaired. And that it has some very important epidemiological consequences. Specifically in the context of urban environments where we have artificial lights at night, it could disrupt their normal circadian daily activity patterns. So we've developed a system where we can vibrate the tubes in which mosquitoes are enclosed. And basically this perturbation disturbs them and prevent them from falling into these deeper sleep like states. And so when that happens they're sleep deprived just like you and I would be if we travel or party all night. And the next day, they sleep way more, they have this sleep rebound to basically recover from their lack of sleep. And during that day that subsequent day after sleep deprivation, if you present them for host cues they won't be able to respond as strongly and as efficiently as well rested mosquitos. There are different species of mosquitoes that are problematic to us human beings because they transmit viruses or parasites. All these diseases that are transmitted by mosquitoes, or vectored by mosquitoes. They be killed hundreds of thousands of people every year. So that's a huge problem for most of these diseases. We don't have vaccines or specific treatments that are very efficient. We need to find new ways to control mosquitoes that transmit the pathogens that cause these diseases.