Natural Yeast-based Larvicides

Developing and Testing Yeast Interfering RNA Larvicides Targeting Zika Vector Mosquitoes in Belize

Organization: Trustees of Indiana University, Indiana University School of Medicine, and the University of Notre Dame

Location: South Bend, Indiana, USA

Problem: Larviciding is a key component of integrated Aedes control and disease prevention strategies. Given the increase of reported insecticide resistance to existing larvicides and the rising concern for negative effects of pesticides on non-target organisms, the current larvicide repertoire is faced with great challenges to sustainability. New larvicidal agents are vitally needed to address emerging arthropod-borne infectious diseases such as Zika.

Solution: Researchers at Indiana University have developed yeast interfering RNA larvicides that kill nearly 100% of A. aegypti larvae in laboratory assays. The researchers will conduct a field evaluation of yeast interfering RNA larvicides, a novel class of larvicides for the control of mosquitoes that transmit Zika virus. The interfering RNA molecules identified represent a novel class of larvicides with untapped potential for biorational and sustainable mosquito control. Interfering RNA can be propagated through cultivation of yeast, which is inexpensive to culture. Yeasts have been cultivated worldwide for thousands of years, and this technology can be adapted to resource-limited countries with constrained infrastructures. Dried yeast can be packaged and shipped in either active or inactive forms, facilitating regional distribution.


Molly Duman Scheel – PhD, University of Chicago; B.S., University of Notre Dame

Team: David W. Severson, Na Wei, Keshava Mysore, Limb Haparai, Kathleen Eggleson, Kim Bautista, John Grieco and Nicole Achee

Primary motivation:

"Over the past decade, we have successfully used RNA interference (RNAi) to functionally characterize mosquito developmental genes in our laboratory. We have begun to explore the potential for using this technology for mosquito control, and USAID has provided us with an exciting opportunity to begin translating our work in the field."

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