Can Mosquitoes Pollinate Plants? New Jersey Mosquito Control
A biologist, Dr. Jeff Riffell, from the University of Washington, studies how odors act as chemical signals, and how these signals influence animal behavior. For example, many plants use smell to coax far away insects into traveling long distances for pollination. Riffell’s team of scientists wanted to find out what a plant smells like if it needs to be pollinated by mosquitoes. It turned out to smell like a “dirty gym sock”.
Mosquitoes are not that great at pollinating plants. Mosquitoes normally approach flowers solely to procure some sweet tasting nectar before they find their next victim. However, there is one plant that has evolved to take advantage of the frequent mosquito visits, and that plant is known as the orchid Platanthera obtusata. In fact, this orchid pollination via mosquito is not so uncommon.
In areas where orchids are common, such as the state of Washington, orchids rely on mosquitoes almost exclusively for pollination. In fact, Riffell’s team recorded each insect that visited a particular orchid plant. Out of the 167 bugs that visited the orchids, 166 of them were mosquitoes. It is nice to know that mosquitoes can do good for the planet instead just being that bug that kills more people than any other bug.
Do you think mosquitoes could pollinate, perhaps without intent, any other plants besides orchids?
Scientists have been rushing to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus at warp speed ever since the epidemic began. The continued threat has pushed scientists to try creating a DNA vaccine, which could revolutionize all vaccines. The DNA vaccine is basically like something you would read about in a science fiction novel. This kind of technology is extremely cutting edge and would be a huge step forward in the world of medicine.
A DNA vaccine takes genetic material from the virus and then uses just enough of it to cause our bodies to develop an immune response without actually introducing the virus to the body. This completely fixes the issues scientists have had with traditional vaccines, which do introduce the virus to our immune system, usually a weakened version of the virus or a dead version. This then prompts our immune system to respond and fight it without our bodies actually experiencing any of the negative health problem caused by the virus. As you might have guessed, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with these kinds of vaccines, especially for people with immune deficiencies.
The DNA vaccine injects a synthetic form of the DNA from the virus, eliminating any possible health issues caused by regular vaccines. However, up till now it hasn’t been used because it doesn’t absorb well. This problem has now been fixed. The DNA vaccine now delivers a mild electrical current along with the vaccine, which opens cell membranes so cells can absorb the DNA. This allows our bodies to then spur an antibody response. This method is safer and more effective than traditional vaccines. Who knows? Catching a virus could eventually become a thing of the past.
How do you think DNA vaccines could effect and change vaccines as well as health in general around the world?