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 (http://www.genetics.org), 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."
DETAILS: John M. Marshall, Geoffrey W. Pittman, Anna B. Buchman, and Bruce A. Hay, Semele: A Killer-Male, Rescue-Female System for Suppression and Replacement of Insect Disease Vector Populations, Genetics 2011 187: 535�. http://www.genetics.org/cgi/content/abstract/187/2/535.
Since 1916, GENETICS (http://www.genetics.org) has covered high quality, original research on a range of topics bearing on inheritance, including population and evolutionary genetics, complex traits, developmental and behavioral genetics, cellular genetics, gene expression, genome integrity and transmission, and genome and systems biology. GENETICS, the peer-reviewed, peer-edited journal of the Genetics Society of America is one of the world's most cited journals in genetics and heredity.
Gene therapy shows promise for treating Niemann-Pick disease type C1
27.10.2016 | NIH/National Human Genome Research Institute
'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape
27.10.2016 | International School of Advanced Studies (SISSA)
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences
27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
27.10.2016 | Life Sciences