Oxitec's GM mosquitoes annihilate their wild counterparts

Mosquitoes are a nuisance for some and a deadly reality for others. The pests are responsible for transmitting diseases to million of people every year, and efforts to quash this problem have been only somewhat successful. Enter Oxitec's genetically modified mosquitoes — they are designed to produce offspring that do not reach an age sufficient enough for reproduction, and when sufficiently large enough populations of them are introduced into the wild they result in an utter annihilation of their non-modified neighbors.

Mosquitoes are responsible for millions of cases of Malaria and dengue fever every year, among other things. Aedes aegypti are cited as a big cause of these infections, being a variety of mosquito that is said to thrive in urban landscapes, and that is not easily killed off with insecticides. It has a particular fondness for biting humans, as well.

It is this version of mosquitoes that Oxitec has targeted – it genetically modified them by injecting the insect's eggs with synthetic DNA. The mosquito goes on to live a full mosquito life, but its offspring does not grow to adulthood, and therefore cannot mate.

Introducing males of these modified mosquitoes into an environment then results in a second generation of mosquito that dies off without having ever reproduced. Tests by the company so far show suppression rates in excess of 90-percent. Pending approval, Oxitec is looking to introduce its mosquitoes in the southern US.

SOURCE: Popular Science