Cases of Dengue Drop 91 Percent Due to Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

Aedes aegypti

By Richard Levine Once again, a technique that modifies insects in order to control their populations has been proven effective. RIDL, which stands for Release of Insects carrying a Dominant Lethal, has been applied to diamondback moths, Mediterranean fruit flies, and olive flies, and it has been used in field trials on mosquitoes in order […]

A New Pesticide-Free Way to Control Diamondback Moths

Plutella-xylostella

An article in the in the journal BioMed Central Biology describes a new pesticide-free and environmentally-friendly way to control diamondback moths (Plutella xylostella) with a “self-limiting gene.” The DBM is an invasive species and is a serious pest of cabbages, kale, canola and other crucifer crops around the world. The self-limiting gene technique, developed by […]

Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Reduce Dengue Transmitters by 95 Percent

2006
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 […]

Some Facts About Florida’s Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

cartoon-mosquito

By Richard Levine Over the weekend, a deluge of news articles about the possible release of genetically-modified mosquitoes in the Florida Keys swept the Internet. The modified mosquitoes, if approved, would be used to control mosquito populations without pesticides, and would lower the chances of Floridians being exposed to mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya. […]

New Approach to Sterilizing Fruit Flies

fruitfly

The sterile insect technique, or SIT, has been used for decades to control insects such as the Mediterranean fruit fly. Basically, insects are exposed to radiation, which makes them sterile, and then they’re released into the wild to mate. However, since they’re sterile, no viable offspring are produced. Now a new method of sterilization — […]

Panama Considers Sterilizing Mosquitoes to Combat Dengue

Aedes aegypti mosquito

Weeks after Panama’s Health Minister, Javier Diaz, declared that the country was experiencing a “dengue epidemic,” Panama approved the evaluation of a novel tool to combat the dengue mosquito. It involves mass-rearing large numbers of male mosquitoes that are genetically modified so that their offspring cannot reproduce, which reduces the population. Panama is collaborating with […]

A Genetically Modified Insect May be Field Tested in Europe

olivelfy

Oxitec, a British ag-biotech company, has applied to Spanish regulatory authorities for permission to carry out a netted field evaluation of its genetically-modified olive fly strain. If approved, the study would be the first outdoor trial of a GM insect in the EU. In Oxitec’s pest control approach, the company’s engineered males are released to […]