Eradicating Mosquitoes Responsible for Malaria with Genetic Editing

Won't cause any ecological impact

#Science

Mon, Dec 14th, 2015 11:00 by capnasty NEWS

By modifying fertility genes, researchers could potentially wipe out malaria by rendering mosquitos infertile. Reportedly, wiping out mosquitoes would have little impact for the ecosystem.

To be infertile, females must inherit two mutated copies of a fertility gene, one for each chromosome. (In males, possessing the same mutated genes seems to have no effect on fertility.) Normally, natural selection would weed out such a harmful trait. Females with two copies of the mutated genes would not breed, whereas fertile females would tend to pass down healthy versions of the genes to their offspring.

Gene drives, however, ensure that offspring inheriting only one broken copy of a gene automatically have their other chromosome edited, so that they end up with two mutations. As a result, infertility can spread rapidly through the population.

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