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March 14, 1980 - Image 25

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-03-14

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE. DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Israel. Bacillus Aimed at the Mosquito

BEERstiEBA — The
world's appalling death rate
from mosquito-bearing dis-
eases such as malaria, yel-
low fever, dengue and
encephalitis may someday
plummet as a result of the
research of Ben-Gurion
University biologist Dr.
Joel Margalit.
Moreover, his discovery of
a new strain of Bacillus,
known as "Bacillus
huringiensis israelensis,"
promises to help mankind
kick the chemical pesticide
habit, which become so
ecologically damaging in
recent years.
Margalit, who has
studied the insect world for
20 years, explains that
when the synthetic pes-
ticides were first introduced
in the 1940's, they were
very effective on the insects
and were considered rela-
tively harmless -to other
animal species, including
man.
Over time, however,
the creatures became in-
creasingly resistant to
the sprays. With chemical
pesticides, the number of
people suffering from
malaria in India, for in-
stance, dropped from 10
million to 60,000 by 1962.
But by 1969, the figures
rose again to seven mil-
lion because of the in-
sects' resistance. To
bring the numbers down,
more powerful toxic pes-
ticides had to be synthe-
sized and applied in
larger doses.
As an alternative, scien-
tists in the 1960s turned to
natural bio-control agents
to spray crops. Today, they
are in widespread use, but
until Margalit isolated the
bacteria, no effective
biocontrol agent existed to
combat the lethal mosquito.
Beginning their work in
1976, he and an associate,
Dr. Leonard Goldberg of the
University of California at
Berkeley, searched
throughout Israel to find
the proper bacterial sample.
Finally, in 1977, at the bot-
tom of a swampy riverbed
near Kibutz Tzelim, about
60 kilometers west of
Beersheba, they discovered
larvae which had mysteri-
ously died.
"We became very ex-
cited," remembers Mar-
galit. "After bringing them
back to the lab to isolate the
killing agent, we introduced
Aitethe bacillus to healthy mos-
quito larvae which died
within half-an-hour.
They sent the microor-
ganisms to the famed
Pasteur Institute in

ill

Aging Dentists,
Shortened Hours

TEL AVIV (ZINS) — Ac-
cording to a report by the
Israeli Ministry of Health,
the average Israeli dentist
puts in a 28-hour week be-
cause his earnings are suffi-
cient on the reduced
schedule.
The report says Israel has
2,400 practicing dentists
and needs an additional
5,000 because 50 percent of
its dentists are age 59 or
older.

Paris. The report which the body and he was named
came back confirmed to the Expert Committee of
their suspicions: It was the Scientific Working
indeed a new strain Group on Biological Control
which was extremely of Insect Vectors (Disease
virulent to mosquito lar- Carriers). His research has
vae.
been partially funded by
This tiny Bacillus WHO.
thuringiensis israelensis
In October 1979, Margalit
produces a crystalline pro- journeyed to Kenya, where
tein substance during spore he worked closely with local
formation which acts as a entomologists on the possi-
poison to mosquito larvae bility of transporting the
by paralyzing their diges- bacillus to eliminate the
tive system's soon after they mosquito larvae of Africa.
Currently, Margalit is
eat the bacteria.
At a Prague meeting of looking into the best
the World Health Organiza- methods for field appli-
tion in 1978, Margalit's cation of his product.
findings were endorsed by "Because it harms no

other form of animal life
except the mosquito, it
need not pass the strin-
gent environmental tests
necessary for chemical
sprays," he says in the
bacillus' favor. "Also, it
has a shelf life of at least a
year."
Equally important, Mar-
galit has a strong hunch, as
yet unproven conclusively,
that the cost of producing
his mosquito fighter is com-
parable to chemical pes-
ticides.
"Every way you look at
it," he says, "everybody
benefits except the mos-
quito."

Friday, March 14, 1980 25

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