Justin R. Anderson, PhD, associate professor of biology at Radford University, discusses how endocrine disrupting chemicals interact with larvae to change infected mosquitoes.
Justin R. Anderson, PhD, associate professor of biology at Radford University, discusses how endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) interact with larvae to change infected mosquitoes.
Interview Transcript (slightly modified for readability)
“Endocrine disrupters are environmental contaminants, so [Bisphenol A] BPA for example, is a plasticizer that helps produce the plastics in environmental waste. If somebody throws out a water bottle, for example, and it contains water, that BPA can leach back out into the water. The mosquitoes that we’re interested in lay their eggs in containers, and so, as those larvae develop into adult mosquitoes, they’re going to be exposed to those EDCs in the water that they’re growing in.
We wanted to see what would happen to those mosquitoes; our findings show that we kill a significant number of those mosquitoes. The BPA or the BPS, Bisphenol S, or Butylated hydroxyanisole, BHA, which is a preservative, will kill developing mosquito larvae; somewhere between 100% for BHA down to about 40% of the mosquitoes will die. The ones that survive, we tested the females to see what happened in terms of their reproductive potential and for a couple of the endocrine disrupters, we actually saw an increase in the number of eggs that were laid. They lay more eggs if they survive, which sort of counterbalances the loss due to mortality.
We also saw that, depending on the concentration, depending on the endocrine disrupter that we used, we got changes to the size of the mosquitoes: some of them were bigger, some of them were smaller. We didn’t really notice any trends yet, but it turns out that depending on a virus and a mosquito, bigger mosquitoes may transmit the virus more, or in different systems, [while] the smaller mosquitoes will actually transmit the virus more. We haven’t really looked at a specific virus vector system yet, but we know that body size is an important predictor for [the question of wether] the mosquito [can] transmit the virus.”