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posted by mrpg on Tuesday November 22, @05:25PM   Printer-friendly
from the hmm-I-don't-know dept.

https://www.wired.com/story/genetically-engineered-mosquitoes-population/

The Aedes aegypti mosquito is not just a nuisance—it's a known carrier of dengue, yellow fever, chikungunya, and Zika viruses. Distinguished by the black and white stripes on its legs, the species is one of the most dangerous to humans.

In the Brazilian city of Indaiatuba, an effort is underway to eliminate these pests before they have a chance to spread illness. The weapon: more Aedes aegypti mosquitoes—but ones genetically engineered to kill their own kind. Made by British biotechnology firm Oxitec, the mosquitoes seem to be working.

The modified mosquitoes carry a synthetic self-limiting gene that prevents female offspring from surviving. This is important, because only the females bite and transmit disease. In a new study, scientists at the company showed that their engineered insects were able to slash the local population of Aedes aegypti by up to 96 percent over 11 months in the neighborhoods where they were released.

[...] The modified males mate with wild females, but the self-limiting gene prevents female progeny from surviving. This gene, which is lab-engineered but based on elements found in E. coli and the herpes simplex virus, causes the female offspring's cells to produce lots of a protein called tTAV. This interferes with their cells' ability to produce other essential proteins needed for development. As a result, the females die off before they mature and start biting. Male offspring survive, carrying a copy of the self-limiting gene that they can then pass on.


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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Gaaark on Tuesday November 22, @06:02PM (3 children)

    by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @06:02PM (#1281102) Journal

    Life, uh...uh..., finds a way...

    --
    --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 0, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:56PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, @07:56PM (#1281131)

      Yeah, and the ones that do survive and bite will give us herpes! Great!

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by GloomMower on Tuesday November 22, @08:01PM

      by GloomMower (17961) on Tuesday November 22, @08:01PM (#1281134)

      The article does say the gene basically is out of the gene pool after a few generations and new males need to be reintroduced several times a year.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @01:45AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @01:45AM (#1281186)
      Yeah, given this involves zillions of mosquitoes, after a few generations we'd probably see evolution at work.

      Females that avoid breeding with such males or immunity in other ways.
  • (Score: 4, Informative) by EvilSS on Tuesday November 22, @09:59PM (2 children)

    by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday November 22, @09:59PM (#1281159)
    Just a reminder this is an invasive species outside of their native range in Africa. They spread to the Americas through slave trade so it's somewhat recent and they are not considered crucial or even important in their non-native ecosystems. So no, there should not be any food chain collapse from removing them.
    • (Score: 3, Informative) by bart9h on Wednesday November 23, @05:30PM (1 child)

      by bart9h (767) on Wednesday November 23, @05:30PM (#1281297)

      Who cares about food chain? I'd vote for complete mosquito eradication, even if it will screw the ecosystem.

      • (Score: 2) by EvilSS on Thursday November 24, @05:43PM

        by EvilSS (1456) Subscriber Badge on Thursday November 24, @05:43PM (#1281508)

        Who cares about food chain?

        Apparently internet contrarians care a lot as it gets brought up every time these eradication programs are in the news.

  • (Score: 5, Funny) by Snotnose on Tuesday November 22, @10:58PM (1 child)

    by Snotnose (1623) on Tuesday November 22, @10:58PM (#1281169)

    with another ex-wife.

    I'm gonna stop here an just jump into the pile 'o money this will save me.

    Problem is, I only have 1 ex-wife. All the women I meet and say "you look just like my second wife" always ask "how many times have you been married?", to which I have to admit only once.

    That is not a pickup line that is working for me.

    --
    The Word Of the Day (WOD) is finicky. As in, "sharks avoid the sewage discharge pipe because they make their finicky".
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @11:45PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 23, @11:45PM (#1281356)

      Do they bite?

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