Self-deleting genes promise risk-free genetic engineering of mosquitoes

D. Quick,  New Atlas,  2020.

They might be small and their kills may be indirect, but for humans, mosquitoes are the deadliest animals on the planet by quite a margin. While tackling the diseases these annoying insects spread is one approach to reduce their lethality, others are looking to attack the problem at the bloodsucking source through genetic engineering. A new project by Texas A&M AgriLife Research is looking to enable “test runs” of genetic changes to mosquitoes that are automatically deleted. Various angles of attack using genetic engineering to combat mosquitoes have been pursued in recent years, including modifying them so they pass on infertility, don’t grow wings, can’t spread malaria or have impaired smell. But making genetic modifications to an organism and then releasing them into the wild runs the risk of unintended and harmful consequences that may be difficult to reverse. That’s where the new Texas A&M AgriLife Research project comes in. It is looking to enable “test runs” of genetic modifications that would then automatically be deleted from the mosquitoes’ genetic code after a period of time.

More related to this:

Making gene drive biodegradable

When Evolution Fights Back Against Genetic Engineering

Irreversible ecosystem engineering with Gene Drive Organisms

Cheating evolution: engineering gene drives to manipulate the fate of wild populations

Release 750 Million Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Into the Wild, They Said

Let’s say we can force the mosquito into extinction — should we do it?