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.