Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Reduce Dengue Transmitters by 95 Percent

Prof. Frank Hadley Collins, Dir., Cntr. for Global Health and Infectious Diseases, Univ. of Notre Dame

This 2006 image depicted a female Aedes aegypti mosquito as she was obtaining a blood-meal from a human host through her fascicle, which had penetrated the host skin, was reddening in color, reflecting the blood’s coloration through this tubular structure. In this case, what would normally be an unsuspecting host was actually the CDC’s biomedical photographer’s own hand, which he’d offered to the hungry mosquito so that she’d alight, and be photographed while feeding. As it filled with blood, the abdomen became distended, stretched the exterior exoskeletal surface, causing it to become transparent, and allowed the collecting blood to become visible as an enlarging intra-abdominal red mass.

Dengue is a viral disease transmitted by urban Aedes mosquitos, principally A. aegypti, a species found living in close association with humans in most tropical urban areas. Mosquito biting activity is greatest in the morning for several hours after daybreak and in the late afternoon for several hours before dark. It may feed all day indoors, in shady areas, or when it is overcast. This mosquito breeds in artificial water containers, such as discarded tires, cans, barrels, buckets, 55 gallon drums, flower vases, and cisterns, all frequently found in the domestic environment. Since 1980, the incidence of dengue has increased dramatically in tropical countries worldwide, with endemic and/or epidemic virus transmission documented in most countries of the Caribbean Basin, Central and South America, the Pacific Islands, Asia, and Africa; many countries have had multiple outbreaks. Epidemics are frequently not reported because of inadequate disease surveillance.

The results of a trial of genetically engineered mosquitoes intended to reduce their ability to transmit dengue fever have been published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The mosquitoes, commonly known as “Friendly Aedes aegypti” mosqitoes in Brazil where the trial took place, were developed by a company called Oxitec. The results of the […]

From Red-eyed Flies to Red Flour Beetles, Insects are Model Research Organisms


By Lucy Huang Model organisms have deepened our understanding of diverse biological concepts, including animal behavior, environmental changes, molecular genetics, developmental biology, and speciation. What defines a model organism is quite broad. Any organism that is easy to care for, lives short generations, and produces a large number of offspring at one time can potentially […]

For Kudzu Bugs, a Single Pesticide Application Targeting Nymphs is Most Cost-Effective


By Chris Patrick The invasive kudzu bug (Megacopta cribraria) is a gleaming glob of an insect. The adults, about the size of a lady beetle, are square-ish and shiny olive-green, resembling a squatty armor breastplate. The immature nymphs are football-shaped, lime-green, and hairy. They came from Asia. And yes, they earned their moniker because they […]

Stink Bugs’ Tree Host Preferences May Provide Management Clues


By Kevin Fitzgerald Since its discovery in Pennsylvania in 1998, the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys), an invasive species native to eastern Asia, has swept into most U.S. states and parts of Canada (it has also been found in several European countries, Australia, and New Zealand). The creature feasts on a wide variety of […]

Researchers Sequence Genome of the Australian Sheep Blowfly


All 14,544 genes of the Australian sheep blowfly (Lucilia cuprina) have been identified by an international research team led by the University of Melbourne. The research, published in Nature Communications, provides insights into the fly’s molecular biology, how it interacts with the sheep’s biology and, importantly, shows its potential to develop insecticide resistance. This blow […]

Wisconsin Butterfly Conservation Program Could Be a Model for Future Efforts


By Ed Ricciuti An endangered butterfly with a one-inch wingspan is the focus of a cutting-edge recovery program in Wisconsin that has become a model for other recovery plans for imperiled species. A history of the program, described in an article published in American Entomologist, could be a blueprint for similar efforts to save habitats […]

Pests Can Evolve Resistance to Many Types of Control Methods, Not Just Chemicals


By Richard Levine Agricultural pests, such as insects and weeds, can be incredibly adept at developing resistance to control methods. When you mention the word “resistance,” most people probably think of pests becoming resistant to certain chemicals — weeds becoming herbicide resistant, or insects becoming resistant to insecticides, for example. However, there are many other […]

UCR Student Finds New Firefly Species in Southern California


An undergraduate student at the University of California, Riverside has discovered a new species of firefly from Southern California. Joshua Oliva found a specimen of the new species while collecting near Topanga, CA as part of his semester’s insect collection. “He wasn’t 100 percent certain it was a firefly, and brought it to me for […]

Six New Ant Species Found in Madagascar


First it was 10 new species of spiders, and now it’s six new species of ants found in Madagascar. Two researchers from the California Academy of Sciences, Rick Overson and Brian Fisher, have described six new species of strange subterranean ants from the genus Prionopelta found in Madagascar and Seychelles. The descriptions appear in the […]

Ten New Spider Species Found in Madagascar


An international team of researchers has discovered ten new spider species in Madagascar. All ten belong to the genus Anelosimus, which is in the family Theridiidae. The names of some of them are very recognizable. For example, Anelosimus darwini honors Charles Darwin, the father of evolutionary biology, and Anelosimus wallacei is named after Alfred Russel […]


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