CuniNPV is a pathogen of Culex mosquitoes, vectors of West Nile virus and other forms of encephalitis. Successful development of CuniNPV requires an efficient production system and formulated product that incorporates magnesium, an essential component for transmission. It may be possible to develop mosquito baculoviruses as a new type of biopesticide by microencapsulating the virus and magnesium into formulations that would be effective regardless of the water quality. In addition, this new insight on transmission may facilitate the discovery and development of additional baculoviruses for the control of other important mosquito vectors. Biological mining of the CuniNPV genome and investigations to understand virus–mosquito interactions at the molecular level offer exciting possibilities for the development of novel mosquito control strategies and tools. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of infection will provide the opportunity to devise new control strategies, for example, compromising the defensive systems of the mosquito (proteases for the peritrophic matrix) or exploiting receptors used by the virus to specifically deliver toxins to mosquito larvae via the midgut. As additional baculovirus genomes become available, comparative genomics could lead to a more informed understanding of how the virus exploits its host as well as the factors responsible for the genus-specific host range of most known mosquito baculoviruses.
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Vol. 22 • No. 3