Knocking Out Mosquitoes, the Most Deadly Animal on Earth
British researchers say they have genetically engineered mosquitoes so they only produce male offspring.
You see, male mosquitoes don’t bite. Only the females do the biting….Happy Father’s Day, by the way.
And infusing a population with animals that can’t reproduce can theoretically ultimately eliminate a population. And if you know the birds and the bees, or the mosquitoes and mosquitoes – males and males just can’t breed with one another.
The British lab engineered the infertile mosquitoes by damaging the X chromosome that the father mosquito would normally pass along to its offspring, so that the only young mosquitoes that would hatch alive would be male.
Lab tests showed these altered mosquitoes virtually bred themselves out of existence after a few generations, researchers reported in the journal Nature Communications.
Just like people, mosquito sex is determined by the X and Y chromosomes. Males have one X — inherited from the mother, and one Y — inherited from the father. Females have two X chromosomes, one inherited from each parent. So if one is damaged, the female offspring cannot survive.
Usually, about half a male’s sperm will carry an X and the other half will carry a Y. Female eggs carry one X.
Bottom line – is that if this works, the researchers at London Imperial College will do something that matters to impact mosquito numbers. Mosquitoes transmit heartworm disease to dogs and cats.
In the U.S., mosquitoes carry the West Nile Virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – all three are quite rare in dogs, they more commonly occur in people, and can be very serious. Just as in humans, following a bite by an infected mosquito, the West Nile Virus multiplies in the horse’s blood system, and crosses into the brain, where it infects the brain, causing inflammation and interference with the central nervous system.
Mosquitoes are responsible for more deaths on earth than any other animal, by far.
Malaria, the most widespread mosquito-borne disease, affects 350-500 million people each year. Dengue Fever infects between 50-100 million, causing an estimated 25,000 deaths and an enormous economic cost in affected countries.
Other serious illnesses transmitted by mosquitoes are on the rise. Chikungunya and Yellow Fever are painful and debilitating diseases which can in some cases prove fatal, and thought to be increasing in prevalence. Chikumgunya and Dengue fever have been recently identified in Florida. Scientists agree there are likely emerging diseases carried by mosquitoes which have yet to be identified.