Why Genes That Make Mosquitoes Glow Can Help Reduce Vector-Borne Disease

E. Ricciuti,  Entomology Today,  2021.

Fireflies they are not, but glow they do. Not in the dark, to be sure, but mosquitoes genetically modified in the laboratory for an emerging approach to reducing the threat of vector-borne disease look like miniature neon signs when subjected to ultraviolet light. To produce genetically modified, or transgenic, mosquitoes, scientists stich together a construct of mosquito DNA that endows them with a trait that kills off females before they can reproduce, eventually suppressing the surrounding population. Two genes are inserted together into the modified DNA. One is a self-limiting device that prevents female mosquitoes from maturing to adults. The other is a marker that makes the mosquitoes that possess it glow under certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light, facilitating identification when they are collected in monitoring efforts. Scientists at North Carolina State University (NCSU) are trying to give that glow more pizzazz, according to a new study published in July in the Journal of Medical Entomology.

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