Monday, November 28, 2011

Genetically Engineered to Die

Genetically altered mosquito’s have been released into the environment for the first time. These mosquito’s and modified with a lethal gene that kills there larvae before they can reach adulthood. It seems like this would be a more ecological solution to insect problems but concerns over the release of these insects are amuck. Meanwhile agricultural companies are hopefully that the same gene altering can be used on common crop pests such as fruit flies and worms. The technique had been previously used on other insects before but was not successful with misquotes because they usually would acquire lethal amounts of radiation and die before they could be released or be unfit to compete against other males for mates. The misquotes bred by Oxitec would normally die unless they were given tetracycline. In the lab they are bred and provided with the tetracycline, males are released, mate and die, and successfully produce offspring that will also eventually die. Experts say that the technique is not full proof however as misquotes may inadvertently evolve resistances to the gene and the pass it onto the outside population. Oxitec's main focus is on mosquitos that carry Dungue fever right now.

1 comment:

  1. It would be great progress in stopping the spread of disease and parasites such as yellow fever and Malaria. Mosquitoes are estimated to transmit disease to more than 700 million people annually in Africa, South America, Central America, Mexico, Russia and much of Asia with millions of resulting deaths. At least 2 million people annually die of these diseases. So if this is successful it could potentialy save many lives.