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Biotech Science

Malaysia Releases Genetically Modified Mosquitoes 140

Blessed_by_the_Cow writes "Apparently, Malaysian scientists have released 6,000 genetically modified male mosquitoes into the the wild. These bloodsuckers have been altered to have shorter lifespans. The basic idea behind it is to help slow down the spread of Dengue fever by killing off the mosquitoes faster."
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Malaysia Releases Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

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  • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Friday January 28, 2011 @06:42PM (#35038866) Homepage

    Dunno, in order to do that you need to release not 6000 but 6000000 the way they did it with screwworm flies in the south of the USA (and continue in Latin America).

    The screwworm control method is to release flies sterilised through radiation by the truckload so that most eggs are from at least one sterile parent so they do not hatch - hence no screwworm damage to lifestock. Year after a year after a year until there is no more screwworm fly (USA in 1982).

    So there is a scientific basis for this, just clearly not enough mosquitoes being released.

  • Except (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Friday January 28, 2011 @06:50PM (#35038950)
    Dengue is not a human disease. It is a mosquito disease that affects humans. An infected mosquito transmits the virus to her offspring, so it doesn't matter how fast the "turnover" of the colony is, you will still have dengue carrying mosquitoes if the infected parent is allowed to lay eggs. I am assuming that these mosquitoes do survive to lay eggs, otherwise what would be the point of "releasing them" in the first place? In fact if anything, this could speed up the spread of dengue throughout humans (and mosquitoes) by increasing the amount of eggs laid/time due to the shorter life cycle and thus the population of dengue-infected mosquitoes. Someone hasn't thought this through. If you're going to play god, at least make sure you've considered all the possibilities (including the ones you don't like) first.
  • by rhook ( 943951 ) on Friday January 28, 2011 @07:02PM (#35039042)

    Male mosquito's cannot drink blood, females of some mosquito species require a meal of blood in order to lay eggs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosquito#Feeding_habits_of_adults [wikipedia.org]

    "Both male and female mosquitoes are nectar feeders, but the females of many species are also capable of drinking blood from many mammals. Females do not require blood for their own survival, but they do need supplemental substances such as protein and iron to develop eggs.

    With regard to host location, carbon dioxide and organic substances produced from the host, humidity, and optical recognition play important roles. In Aedes the search for a host takes place in two phases. First, the mosquito exhibits a nonspecific searching behavior until the perception of host stimulants then it follows a targeted approach.[14]

    Most mosquito species are crepuscular (dawn or dusk) feeders. During the heat of the day most mosquitoes rest in a cool place and wait for the evenings, although they may still bite if disturbed. Some species, like Asian tiger mosquito, are known to fly and feed during daytime.

    Both male and female are nectar feeders.
    Mosquitoes are adept at infiltration and have been known to find their way into residences via deactivated air conditioning units.[15]

    Prior to and during blood feeding, they inject saliva into the bodies of their source(s) of blood. This saliva serves as an anticoagulant: without it, the female mosquito's proboscis would quickly become clogged with blood clots. Female mosquitoes hunt their blood host by detecting carbon dioxide (CO2) and 1-octen-3-ol from a distance.

    Mosquitoes of the genus Toxorhynchites never drink blood.[16] This genus includes the largest extant mosquitoes, the larvae of which prey on the larvae of other mosquitoes. These mosquito eaters have been used in the past as mosquito control agents, with varying success.[17]"

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev