Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Pesticide-free method takes a bite out of mosquito-borne disease

Date:
February 14, 2011
Source:
Genetics Society of America
Summary:
Two strategies to control mosquito-borne diseases, such as malaria and dengue fever, are reducing mosquito population sizes or replacing populations with disease-refractory varieties. Scientists have modeled a genetic system that may be used for both, without the use of pesticides.

Scientists have modeled a system that may be used to control mosquitoes and the diseases they transmit, without the use of pesticides. In the proposed system, mosquitoes are engineered to carry two genes. The first gene causes males to transmit a toxin to females through their semen. The second gene, when expressed in females, makes them immune to this toxin. This research, published in the February 2011 issue of Genetics, describes a system that can be created using currently available molecular tools and could confine the spread of mosquitoes to isolated populations. It also allows the genes to be recalled if necessary.

"I hope that the results of this theoretical study will inspire molecular biologists to explore new ways of driving transgenes into populations," said John M. Marshall, Ph.D., a researcher involved in the work from the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, School of Public Health at the Imperial College of London in the United Kingdom. "Ultimately, I hope that the application of these ideas will help move transgenic mosquito technology forward, and thereby contribute to the many efforts to reduce the prevalence of malaria and dengue fever in disease-endemic countries."

The gene transfer system was modeled using mathematical equations that describe how genetic alterations in the mosquitos' DNA are inherited from one generation to the next, and predict how these alterations will either spread or be eliminated from the population. The system has two basic components -- a toxin expressed in the semen of transgenic males that either kills female recipients or renders them infertile, and an antidote expressed in females that protects them from the effects of the toxin. An all-male release should result in population suppression because wild females that mate with transgenic males produce no offspring. A release that includes transgenic females propagates the desired gene because females carrying the toxin gene are favored at high population frequencies.

The scientists used simple population genetics models to explore the utility of this gene-transfer system, and found that it can work under a wide range of conditions. It requires a high frequency of gene transfer, which is desirable because it means that genetically altered insects released accidentally are unlikely to persist in the wild. Furthermore, it means that those released intentionally can be spatially confined and that the altered genes can be removed from a population through sustained release of wild-type insects. The scientists found few technical barriers to implementing this system, increasing prospects for engineering and testing in the coming years.

"Mosquito bites can mean more than an itchy annoyance," said Mark Johnston, Editor-in-Chief of the journal GENETICS. "For far too many people, they can lead to life-threatening diseases. But mosquitoes play a role in the greater ecosystem, and completely eradicating them may have unintended consequences that could be worse than the diseases they carry. This study is exciting because it suggests a way to control mosquito populations without pesticides, and in a way that gives us control of the process."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Genetics Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. J. M. Marshall, G. W. Pittman, A. B. Buchman, B. A. Hay. Semele: A Killer-Male, Rescue-Female System for Suppression and Replacement of Insect Disease Vector Populations. Genetics, 2010; 187 (2): 535 DOI: 10.1534/genetics.110.124479

Cite This Page:

Genetics Society of America. "Pesticide-free method takes a bite out of mosquito-borne disease." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110210141227.htm>.
Genetics Society of America. (2011, February 14). Pesticide-free method takes a bite out of mosquito-borne disease. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110210141227.htm
Genetics Society of America. "Pesticide-free method takes a bite out of mosquito-borne disease." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110210141227.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins