Transgenic moths released to end one of the worst pests on the planet

B. Mandalia,  Pledge Times,  2020.

For a few years, a company that originated in the laboratories of the University of Oxford has created living beings with capacities that until now did not exist in nature. His first creature was a variant of the mosquito Aedes aegypti that had DNA from marine coral, bacteria, flies and moths inserted into its genome. The goal of these modifications was simple: to create male mosquitoes capable of mating with females to pass on to their offspring a genetic inheritance that guarantees that none of their children will survive.

So said it may seem a terrible thing, but the females of Aedes aegypti They are responsible for transmitting diseases that affect millions of people, such as dengue, Zika and chikungunya. In different experiments in Brazil, the creators of these mosquitoes designed to eliminate their own lineage showed that they reduce the incidence of dengue by up to 90%. The company, Oxitec, is already testing in Brazil a second generation of transgenic mosquitoes that produce only males; unable to sting and transmit disease. It is also developing a new variant to try to sterilize the mosquito that transmits malaria, a disease suffered by more than 200 million people around the world and which kills more than 400,000 each year, most of them children.

Today the results of the first open field experiment with another of the creations of this biotechnology company are published. It is a variant of the moth Plutella xylostella which is one of the worst agricultural pests in the world. The larvae of this insect feed on crops such as broccoli, cabbage or cauliflower and cause losses of about 4,000 million euros each year. The worst thing about this moth is that it has become resistant to most insecticides.

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