SkitoSnack – Replacing Vertebrate Blood in Mosquito Mass Rearing
Immo Hansen of New Mexico State University in the U.S. will develop an artificial protein-based meal for rearing mosquitoes to replace currently used vertebrate blood, which has extensive region-specific regulatory requirements. Large numbers of mosquitoes are required for several mosquito control strategies to reduce the incidence of vector borne diseases such as malaria. They have developed the so-called SkitoSnack consisting of serum albumin and another protein that together support egg development in female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. They will analyze the types of metabolites found in mosquitoes fed on their SkitoSnack versus vertebrate blood to identify the need for any supplements to maximize egg production, and evaluate different phagostimulants to stabilize SkitoSnack and attract the mosquitoes. They will also explore requirements for commercial production including identifying safe preservatives and optimal formulations and packaging.