Mosquitoes are carriers of serious life-threatening diseases, such as Malaria and the Zika virus.
Biologists at Ben Gurion University of the Negev discovered a new way to fend off mosquitoes by activating bacteria in the gut of the mosquito.
The discovery is significant: Mosquitoes are carriers of serious, life-threatening diseases including Malaria and the Zika virus. However, using pesticides to combat mosquitoes is risky due to its reverberating effects on other fauna and flora. Further, since mosquitoes spawn larvae in still water sources, pesticides have never been an option in combating its early life-cycle.
The solution found by biologists and Ben Gurion university (BGU) includes genetically engineering the transfer of a specific type of bacteria from male to female mosquitoes, resulting in their poisoning.
Announcement of the discovery was part of the recent iGEM Competition, an international team competition to promote synthetic biology. A BGU team called FlyGEM expanded on research originating from BGU in which the gut bacterium, known as BTI, was found. It was discovered that when the bacterium is activated, it kills only the larvae, without harming the surrounding environment or female mosquito.
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