Control of Aedes mosquito populations using recombinant microalgae expressing short hairpin RNAs and their effect on plankton

X. Fei, S. Xiao, X. Huang, Z. Li, X. Li, C. He, Y. Li, X. Zhang and X. Deng,  PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases,  17:e0011109. 2023.

New biocontrol strategies are urgently needed to combat vector-borne infectious diseases. This study presents a low-cost method to produce a potential mosquito insecticide that utilizes the microalgae released into suburban water sources to control mosquito populations. Chlorella microalgae are ubiquitous in local waters, which were chosen as the host for genetic transfection. This species facilitated the recombinant algae to adapt to the prevailing environmental conditions with rapid growth and high relative abundance. The procedure involved microalgae RNAi-based insecticides developed using short hairpin RNAs targeting the Aedes aegypti chitin synthase A (chsa) gene in Chlorella. These insecticides effectively silenced the chsa gene, inhibiting Aedes metamorphosis in the laboratory and simulatedfield trials. This study explored the impact of recombinant microalgae on the phytoplankton and zooplankton in suburban waters. High-throughput sequencing revealed that rapid reproduction of recombinant Chlorella indirectly caused the disappearance of some phytoplankton and reduced the protozoan species. This study demonstrated that a recombinant microalgae-based insecticide could effectively reduce the population of Aedes mosquitoes in the laboratory and simulated field trials. However, the impact of this technology on the environment and ecology requires further investigation.

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