SITE VISIT: Hit 'Em in Their Genes

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Science  18 Aug 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5482, pp. 1103d
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5482.1103d

Massive spraying campaigns keep summer's blood-sucking disease vectors down for now, but research on mosquito genomics might suggest better bug-busting strategies for the future. The Mosquito Genomics World Wide Web Server hosts databases for five species, including those that carry the West Nile virus, yellow fever, and malaria. It also hosts a massive database of mosquito-related publications.

Eventually, says curator Dennis Knudson of Colorado State University in Fort Collins, all the databases will be folded into the current, all-species Mosquito Genome Database. The server went live in 1994; Knudson says it was born of “our own research interest—what makes given strains good vectors for parasitic diseases?” They get more than 40,000 queries per month, a number that has jumped since the West Nile virus started giving the United States the creepy-crawlies.

The searchable references include about 70,000 entries. The archive goes back farther than most online bibliographic databases: Almost half the references came from a 1970s University of Notre Dame mosquito reference archive, originally stored on punch cards, that Knudson's team rescued and indexed.

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