British scientists have manipulated the genes of a specific type of mosquito so that only male offspring is produced and the animals are eliminated within several generations. "Nature Communications".
In order to inhibit the production of female offspring among the mosquitos (Anopheles gambiae), the researchers from Imperial College London used the enzyme I-Ppol. In males, it damages the DNA of the X chromosomes in sperm production. Thus, the modified mosquitos had almost no functional sperm with X chromosomes and produced 95 per cent male offspring.
The scientists mixed the genetically modified insects with five caged normal mosquito populations. Because of the lack of females, four of them were entirely eliminated within six generations. This way, malaria-carrying mosquitos could be eliminated in the wild. However, no research was undertaken as to which consequences this may have on the ecosystem.
"What is most promising about our results is that they are self-sustaining. Once modified mosquitoes are introduced, males will start to produce mainly sons, and their sons will do the same, so essentially the mosquitoes carry out the work for us", said study author Nikolai Windbichler.