Every year the cycle is the same. The weather warms up, we get some rain. The grass turns greener, and kids begin to play outside. They run around with friends, they ride bikes…they fall off of those same bikes and get some well earned cuts and bruises. And they get bitten by mosquitos. Then we turn on the news. We see the same or similar stories like, “Human Case of West Nile Virus Investigated.” Or, “Dallas County Confirms First West Nile Virus Death of 2016.” Even the most frightening story of all, “Study describes Zika birth defects as case appears in Texas.”
This year, though, we’ve seen another interesting news story. Scientists have discovered a gene in the parasite Wolbachia that it uses to control the reproductive system of its host. Wolbachia bacteria “sterilize” male mosquitoes through a mechanism called cytoplasmic incompatibility, which affects sperm and eggs. When an infected male breeds with an uninfected female, his modified sperm kill the eggs after fertilization. When he mates with a likewise infected female, however, her eggs remove the sperm modification and develop normally. The scientists at Yale and Vanderbilt have applied for a patent on the potential use of these genes to genetically engineer either the bacterial parasite or the insects themselves to produce more effective methods for controlling the spread of insect-borne diseases like dengue and Zika and for reducing the ravages of agricultural pests.
- New tool for combating mosquito-borne disease: Insect parasite genes
- Bacteria genes offer new strategy for sterilizing mosquitoes
Scientists could insert the bacteria genes into either mosquitoes not infected with Wolbachia (left) or into the bacteria in infected insects (right) to help control the spread of Zika and dengue.
Dr. Scott O’Neill, a biologist in Australia believes that this new information is a great advance, but he also cautions against mosquito control through genetic engineering because of public concerns about the technology. He believes we should focus on more traditional, natural alternatives.
And there are many different methods to combat the annoying menace that is the mosquito, tips like: wear long sleeved shirts, spray yourself with Off. Obviously we recommend investing in a Mosquito Nix Misting System. It is one of the only real mosquito control solutions on the market, far superior to spraying a few times a month. With Mosquito Nix, you are creating a force field around your home, property and your loved ones. Genetic engineering may catch up to Mosquito Nix one day, but that’s not today, and it is probably a long way away…