Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Genetic Engineering and the Biodiversity

    Biotechnology have taken a remarkable turn which could potentially change our biodiversityBio-technologists have already genetically engineered mosquitoes that could help stop the spread of Zika virus. To wipe out offending insects, another team of scientists have found a way called gene drive to spread sterility through the mosquito population. If administrators approve this genetic engineering, then this technique would become a powerful method to prevent harmful disease that are spread through mosquitoes. Despite all this benefit, it could help maintain the earth’s biodiversity. For example, mosquitoes in Hawaii are spreading a virus that is killing the bird populations. However, this spread of virus can be terminated without spraying toxic pesticides. Genetically engineered male mosquitoes that have the gene for sterile will do the job. Altered gene in their salivary glands cannot spread the harmful disease. Also, scientists are capable of producing genetically modified insects that are designed to die. These mosquitoes will mate with the female and their offspring will die before reaching adulthood; thus, minimizing the insects population that spreads the virus. Similar to sterile mosquitoes, sterile rats can be produced to help decrease the diseases that are being spread by rats.
    I think this article has some interesting information that shows how advanced the biotechnology has become. It also portrays that advanced genomic tools have the potential to restore the lost genetic diversity. Genetic engineering could shrink the threatening populations and help the endangered species so that they are better adapted to the environmental change or defend against potentially devastating pathogens.

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