Could we breed a mosquito that doesn't carry diseases?

14 June 2012

Question

Chris (et al):

My understanding is that mosquitoes are the most prevalent vector of disease especially in the poorest countries.

Would it be worth trying to develop a mosquito that can not transmit the diseases? If this gene (or genes) could be created as the dominant gene and interbred with disease transmitting mosquitoes, wouldn't the mosquitoes eventually loose the ability to transmit diseases such as malaria?

Wes

Answer

Answered by Dr Frank Jiggins, Dept of Genetics, Cambridge University.

Frank - It's actually quite straightforward to breed a mosquito that can't transmit malaria. So, if you go to natural populations, you'll find a mixture of mosquitoes in the same population, some of which are very good at transmitting say, malaria, or dengue fever, and others of which are much more resistant and can't transmit these diseases. So, it's quite straightforward to bring them into the laboratory and you can breed from the individuals which are resistant to these diseases and you end up with a population of mosquitoes that can't transmit the disease. So yes, people have done it and it works.

Add a comment