Scientists create infertile mosquitoes

Dec 11, 2015

by Michelle Roberts

UK scientists say they have reached a milestone in the fight against malaria by creating a genetically modified mosquito that is infertile.

The plan is to wipe out the insects that spread malaria to people via bites, Nature Biotechnology reports.

Two copies of the mutant gene render the malaria-carrying female insect completely barren.

But one copy is enough for a mosquito mum or dad to pass it on to offspring.

This should perpetually spread the infertility gene throughout the population so the species dwindles or dies out.

However, the Imperial College London team say more safety tests are needed, meaning it will be a decade before the mutant mosquitoes can be released into the wild.


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18 comments on “Scientists create infertile mosquitoes

  • Where will their ecosystem shift to when these mosquitos are wiped out? Lots of animals that currently eat them will have to look for other foods. What organisms -beside the malaria parasite- depend on them?



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  • I bet you can hearing me cheering in the Northern Hemisphere. What was god thinking when he created the mosquito. I react badly to mosquitoes. Slept in a porous sleep out plagued by mosquitoes. Had to sleep with a sheet pulled up over my head with just my nose visible. But I got bitten every night. Had the old Mortein pump action spray but that only disposed of the bedtime residents, to be replaced shortly after by a new flock.

    I was sensitised to the bites. Now, one bite will itch incredibly for a week, and without discipline, I would break the skin with scratching. Nowadays, if I have to attend an Australian evening function in summer, I wear a full burkha.

    But my concerns are petty in relation to the number of diseases spread to mankind, and I guess other animals around the world. Ross River virus. Dengue fever. Yellow fever. And Malaria of course. This will be brilliant news for humanity.

    Nice one god.



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  • Alan4D. I am the mosquito magnet. Whatever I exude, doesn’t attract female homo sapiens, but it is gold standard attractant for mosquitoes. I have a small business on the side. Cash money. Don’t tell the tax people. I get hired out to garden parties all over my city. Strangers. My job is to stand discreetly someway off from the centre of the party, near the gardens, and attract all the mosquitoes. I’m very good at it. I’ve got a 99.87 rating from EBay.



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  • David R Allen
    Dec 11, 2015 at 5:16 pm

    Alan4D. I am the mosquito magnet. Whatever I exude, doesn’t attract female homo sapiens, but it is gold standard attractant for mosquitoes.

    I have observed this feature in groups of walkers and mountaineers.

    If you have one or two people in a party who the little blighters really like, they leave most of the others alone!

    I believe some Scottish researchers discovered that midges found buffalo sweat even more attractive than humans, so used it successfully as an attractant in one of their vacuum devices.

    If someone was keen on recycling, they could try emptying the midge-bag into a pool on a fish-farm!



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  • An anecdotal experiment. Large houseboat on Australia’s major river, The Murray. Way out back. Tied up at the bank for an overnight. 10pm. Should be well after the peek dusk period for mosquitoes. 8 people on top of the house boat sitting in a straight line of chairs. 6 metres above water level. I was two in from one end. We sat for an hour walking the Milky Way fairly blaze above our eyes. Satellite spotting. Meteors. Heaven on a stick. When we went back into the cabin, I had had 7 mosquito bites. No one else had any.

    If any entomologist is reading this, if you want some blood samples of a jar of my breath, there’s probably a Nobel Prize in it. Mosquitoes are Expletives.



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  • 11
    Pinball1970 says:

    Mosquitoes should be wiped out, something will fill in the food chain gap that will not cause so much mortality and morbidity globally I am sure.

    Malaria kills over million per year most of them children and this is one of those third world diseases that keeps a country third world.

    If you don’t die but are sick for a few weeks you cannot go to school, build a house or go fishing, you cannot help build a community or culture.

    If you have a look at what was achieved over a hundred years ago during the construction of the Panama canal imagine what we can do in India today? One of the fastest growing economies?

    Or Africa the biggest potential for new industry and development?

    Wipe them out, I would also add the domestic cat to the kill em all list, see what happens to the bird population (in the UK – start off slow)



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  • mosquitoes should be wiped out

    Disagree. Bats, gorge on mosquito swarms, pollinate plants. Find solution for WNS in the united states, erect bat houses, save habitat. Let them do the work.

    something will fill in the food chain gap

    Are you positive??



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  • David R Allen: Mosquito Magnet

    In my Australian days I was told that sleeping between two women was the answer, as they are far more attracted to shielas than blokes. Never was that lucky though.



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  • Planetary Paul
    Dec 11, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Where will their ecosystem shift to when these mosquitos are wiped out? Lots of animals that currently eat them will have to look for other foods. What organisms -beside the malaria parasite- depend on them?

    There is a list here. Some have more effect in keeping mosquito numbers down than others.
    Many effective ones eat the aquatic larval stages, but none reduce them to “safe” levels.

    http://bugofff.com/natural-enemies-of-mosquitoes/



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  • Amrit Paul
    Dec 15, 2015 at 10:11 am

    What if the mutant mosquito bit human ?
    What is the possibility that its DNA affects human ?

    Mosquito DNA is not normally passed to humans by biting, and there is no reason to believe that artificially mutated genes, are any more likely to be passed to humans, than naturally mutated genes, or any other mosquito genes.

    That is the stuff of comic-book science fiction.

    As far as the fight against malaria is concerned, the mutant forms could transmit the disease in the same way as their fertile relations, but of course they would be present in greatly reduced numbers.



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  • 18
    Pinball1970 says:

    Are you positive??

    No, I am guessing so I googled. A fish Gambusia affinis eats mosquito larvae and other animals feed on them including bats like you said.
    Someone would have to work out what impact it would have on local eco systems and weigh that against all the diseases this animal transmits and the negative impact on the global economy.



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