RIVERSIDE - UCR researchers have received a $1.86 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to enhance development of a bacterial brew that is deadly to mosquitoes.

"We are beyond the proof of concept," said Brian Federici, principal investigator and a distinguished professor of entomology at UC Riverside.

The product, genetically engineered at UCR, works, Federici said. "What remains is getting it to market."

Unlike some genetically engineered products it kills all mosquito species and close relatives, but does not harm other creatures - including bees, butterflies, lady bugs, wildlife or people, Federici said.

The grant will help the UCR team better understand some of the basic science issues. Later this summer, the group will focus on the technique to produce these deadly bacteria in commercial amounts, he said.

The genetically engineered bacteria contain mosquito-killing elements common to two different bacteria.

Combined into one, these microbes have 10 times the mosquito killing power of the two strains which comprise it, Federici said.

The bacteria attack the digestive system of mosquito larvae, killing them within two hours, he said.

Once approved for use in the United States, he said, the bacteria can be sprayed by anything, from a hand device to an airplane.

jim.steinberg@inlandnewspapers.com,
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