The mosquito, long man's itchiest nemesis, may soon be immune to malaria. Alas, the insect's capacity to ruin barbecues and deliver painful forearm bites would not be effected. Which brings us to an interesting question: do mosquitoes even have a point? Surely some organism--probably one that doesn't play softball on summer nights--has a use for them.
Not so writes Janet Fang in a new article for Nature.com. Unlike with nearly every other organism on the planet, the abrupt extinction of the mosquito would not drastically alter the Earth's ecology.
"[S]cientists acknowledge that the ecological scar left by a missing mosquito would heal quickly as the niche was filled by other organisms. Life would continue as before — or even better. When it comes to the major disease vectors, 'it's difficult to see what the downside would be to removal, except for collateral damage', says insect ecologist Steven Juliano, of Illinois State University in Normal. A world without mosquitoes would be 'more secure for us', says medical entomologist Carlos Brisola Marcondes from the Federal University of Santa Catarina in Brazil. 'The elimination of Anopheles would be very significant for mankind.'"
The bugs are officially on notice.