From: NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Published September 28, 2017 03:21 PM

Disease Resistance Successfully Spread from Modified to Wild Mosquitoes

Using genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes to reduce or prevent the spread of infectious diseases is a new but rapidly expanding field of investigation. Among the challenges researchers face is ensuring that GM mosquitoes can compete and mate with their wild counterparts so the desired modification is preserved and spread in the wild population. Investigators at Johns Hopkins University have engineered GM mosquitoes to have an altered microbiota that suppresses human malaria-causing parasites. These GM mosquitos preferred to mate with wild mosquitoes and passed along the desired protection to many generations of offspring. 

The research was funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health.

The researchers genetically modified Anopheles mosquitoes, which in nature spread the malaria-causing parasite Plasmodium. The team caged equal numbers of wild and GM mosquitoes and monitored their breeding over 10 generations. Ninety percent of the offspring in each generation passed along the GM trait. Even when combining 10 percent GM with 90 percent wild mosquitoes, the Plasmodium-resistance trait dominated after a few generations. Importantly, the GM mosquitoes maintained their resistance to the malaria parasite for 7 years.

Read more at NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

Image: This is an Anopheles gambiae mosquito being injected with hemolymph for a malaria research study. (Credit: NIAID)

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