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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 06 October, 2022

  • 6 Min Read

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

Genetically Modified Mosquitoes

  • Recently, scientists genetically altered mosquitoes to inhibit the growth of parasites that cause malaria, which may help to reduce the risk of the disease spreading to humans.

Regarding malaria Parasites

  • Through the bites of female Anopheles mosquitoes carrying the parasites that cause malaria, people can contract this potentially fatal illness.
  • In the mosquito's gut, the parasite advances to the next stage and moves to the salivary glands, where it is prepared to infect the next victim it bites.
  • Nevertheless, only around 10% of mosquitoes survive long enough for the contagious parasite to emerge.

Symptoms

  • Malaria patients typically experience severe illness, including a high fever and chills that shake.

Distribution

  • Malaria is still widespread in tropical and subtropical nations, while being rare in temperate areas.

Malaria statistics

  • About half of the world's population is still at risk from malaria, which continues to be one of the most deadly diseases in the world.
  • It caused 241 million infections and 627,000 fatalities in 2021.

Genetic modification in Mosquitoes

  • GM mosquitoes are mass-produced in a lab and contain two different types of genes:
  • A self-limiting gene that limits the lifespan of female mosquito offspring.
  • A fluorescent marker gene that shines when exposed to a certain red light. As a result, scientists can recognise GM mosquitoes in the wild.
  • As mosquitoes become resistant to pesticides and treatments, new technologies are becoming more and more necessary.
  • Shorter lifespan: The peptides reduce the development of the malarial parasite and shorten the lifespan of the mosquitoes.
  • Gene drive technology is one such potent tool that, when combined with medications, vaccines, and measures to reduce mosquito populations, can help stop the spread of malaria and save lives.

Positive aspects of GM mosquitoes

  • In some areas of Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Panama, and India, GM mosquitoes have been employed to effectively suppress Ae. aegypti mosquitoes.
  • Only the target mosquito species will be affected by GM mosquitoes, not other mosquito species.
  • Neither people nor animals nor the environment are in danger.
  • According to scientists, the introduction of GMO mosquitoes will gradually reduce the number of disease-carrying biting insects.
  • According to reviews, since invasive mosquito species didn't belong there to begin with, their extinction will likely have little to no impact on the local environment.
  • When employing GMO mosquitoes, the ecosystem is not exposed to any insecticides.
  • It is relatively simple and requires little labour to seed areas with GMO male mosquitoes.

Negative effects of GM mosquitoes

  • GMO mosquitoes may harbour or produce unidentified pathogens that harm people.
  • Critics claim that not enough GMO mosquitoes have been tested and observed.
  • Despite being an invasive species, the mosquito has come to replace other local species as a food source.
  • GMO mosquitoes could change into a more potent species that can reproduce, posing a completely new hazard.
  • Fear that some of the GMO mosquito eggs will survive to adulthood and reproduce despite the gene change.
  • It costs too much money and takes too long to produce GMO mosquitoes.

Moving Forward/Advice

  • Prior to any field experiments, there would need to be very cautious planning to reduce dangers.
  • Two distinct strains: Two distinct but compatible strains of transgenic mosquitoes, one with an anti-parasite alteration and the other with a gene drive, must be developed.

Integrated control of mosquitoes

  • Educating the local population on mosquito prevention measures for their houses and surrounding areas.
  • Monitoring the mosquito population (tracking and monitoring the number of mosquitoes, and types of mosquitoes in an area).
  • Eliminating stagnant water where mosquitoes breed.

Read Also: Aatmanirbhar in Defence Production

Source: The Hindu


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