Eliminating Mosquitoes From the World

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Avery Thompson | 2/20/2019 | Popular Mechanics

Mosquitoes are arguably the most annoying creatures on the planet, and on top of that, they spread horrible diseases like malaria, zika, and lyme. Could we simply eliminate mosquitoes from the world? Should we?

Those are the questions that a group of Italian scientists is hoping to answer. These scientists have to build a tightly-controlled lab to test whether a new genetic technique for eliminating mosquitoes will work and whether such a technique would even be a good idea.


Photo Credit: Kurt Hennige from Bugguide.net

If there’s one thing scientists have learned about ecosystems over the past few centuries, it’s that they’re extremely sensitive to change and something as drastic as killing off an entire species could have wide-ranging and unpredictable ripple effects.

Even beyond that, the method that the scientists are using also has some unknowns. The researchers plan to genetically modify mosquitoes using the new CRISPR gene-editing technology, infusing a handful of mosquito larvae with targeted genetic mutations. When these mutations are passed on to female mosquitoes—the ones that actually bite people and spread diseases—the mutation damages their reproductive organs and prevents them from drawing blood.

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