Genetically modified mosquitoes offer hope in malaria fight


LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists have found a way of genetically modifying mosquitoes to produce sperm that only creates males, offering a potential fresh approach to fighting and eventually eradicating malaria.

Researchers from Imperial College London tested a genetic method that distorts the sex ratio of Anopheles gambiae mosquitoes, the main transmitters of the malaria parasite, so that the female mosquitoes that bite and pass the disease to humans are no longer produced.

In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, the team reported that in the first laboratory tests, the technique created a fully fertile mosquito strain that produced 95 percent male offspring.



I do hope to see success in fighting vector transmitted illnesses like malaria but I question to benefit of genetic alterations to any species of animal or bugs. Though mosquitoes are very much a miserable pest, they do have other functions in nature. If we mess with that we mess with the total environmental balance of things.

For example: There are certainly birds, frogs, lizards and other small animals or fish that eat these mosquitoes. Take away this source of food and what happens to these species. Some species have been shown to be “umbrella” species, that when gone many other animals die or go extinct. We just really don’t know the significance of even the most obnoxious critters on this planet and we might be better of not messing with what God has designed.


I’m not sure how I feel about this topic. I will day this however: Mankind domesticated cattle thousands of years ago and we did just fine. The big casualty was the aurochs (wild cattle). I presume having cattle also significantly altered our planet as a result of us tinkering with God’s creation by selective breeding, etc.

I am concerned with the quick nature of this development which isn’t time-tested like the domesticated cattle example I gave above.

BTW, I like the irony of your user name.


Hmm…they must not have read Jurassic Park. :stuck_out_tongue: I think it’s a bad idea to mess with genetics in the wild. Nature has a way of spoiling even the best laid plans.


Meanwhile, back in Alaska…


Those sceeters are almost as big as the ones in Minnesota. :rotfl:


This is pretty cool. I am happy that they are doing this. However, I have to wonder whether or not it could have unforeseen consequences.


this wouldn’t be necessary if Noah had just swatted those two mosquitoes who flew onto the ark…

Mosquitoes are a nuisance…they don’t do anything but bug…and their bites itch.

There are certain things you shouldn’t mess with in nature (crops, cloning animals) and this is one of them.


I don’t know much about this topic, but I have read that mosquitoes pollinate plants. Mosquitoes get most of their nutrition from nectar. (The females seek blood, and the males never do, only so they can develop their eggs.) Mosquitoes, of course, are also a food source for birds and fish.

If the technique described in the news article is successful on a large scale, there would be ecological changes. What those changes would be is a bit hard to predict. Most scientists think that the ecological niche which Anopheles currently occupy would be be filled by other mosquitoes or insects. But there is some dissent, with predictions that the loss of Anopheles would ripple through the populations of plants and animals.


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