Research: Beetroot peel can stop mosquitoes from multiplying
Diseases that come from mosquitoes infect about 200 million people every year around the world, and more than 700,000 die in the mosquito bite suites. Now researchers have discovered that a substance in the beetroot shell can effectively fight mosquitoes.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has made the assessment that zika virus poses an international threat to human health. This means that you now go out and demand international coordination on how to respond to the zika virus. In the affected countries, the WHO fears that the zika virus will continue to spread both extensively and rapidly and the suspicion that there is a connection between zika virus infection during pregnancy and the malformations affecting the fetus remains.
It is the fragrances geosmin that attracts mosquito females, and in the hunt for a humid place to lay their eggs on, the females associate geosmin with the microorganisms that the mosquito larvae eat. By preparing water collections with this substance, males can be separated from females and thus prevent mosquitoes from multiplying. This discovery made Nadia Melo and Marcus Stensmyr at Lund University together with American colleagues.
The problem is that geosmin, which is the best way to fight mosquitoes, is extremely expensive to produce. It costs SEK 1 million per gram. But the substance geosmin, which is irresistible to females, is also found in the juice from beetroot shell and works just as well as the synthetically produced geosmin.
200 million infected annually
As the climate changes, the number of mosquito-borne diseases has increased, and today researchers expect that of the 200 million people infected with viruses that mosquitoes carry, 700,000 die annually. Those affected are often poor people who cannot afford to protect themselves and do not know how to do it.
In Florida, geosmin has been used to fight mosquitoes and in Brazil beetroot shells – and the results are just as good.
– Our discovery can actually help many. Beetroot can be grown almost everywhere, says Marcus Stensmyr in a press release.
Environmentally friendly with beetroot shell
In addition to beetroot shell being cheap, it is also the best option from an environmental point of view. The researchers have not been able to see that other organisms are damaged, and the knowledge of the beetroot shells should now be spread to poor areas in Asia, Africa and South America. Mosquito-proof areas in urban cities such as Singapore and Miami are also interesting.
– We use an innate preference in mosquitoes, and it is unlikely that mosquitoes develop resistance over time, which is a problem with many chemical methods, explains Marcus Stensmyr.