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Lee Dye of ABC News writes How Sex Could Wipe Out Malaria, which tells the story of how scientists believe they have found a way to eliminate the species of mosquitoes, Anopheles gambiae, that transmits malaria which kills millions of people each year.

By genetically engineering the DNA of test mosquitoes, in the lab, scientists from Imperial College London have produced a genetic variation that causes 95% of offspring to be male. With fewer and fewer females in each successive generation the entire population of the lab experiment was wiped out in six generations

The scientists transferred a gene from slime mold that produces an enzyme that chops up DNA when it finds a specific sequence. In this case it latched on to a section of the x chromosome which determines gender during the period when the male mosquito was producing sperm. Thus nearly all the offspring were males.

"We think our innovative approach is a huge step forward," lead researcher Andrea Crisanti said in releasing the report. "For the very first time, we have been able to inhibit the production of female offspring in the laboratory and this provides a new means to eliminate the disease."

Lee Dye encourages people not to throw out your DEET yet, because there are also 3,000 other species of mosquitoes that scientists would have to breed mutants for each one to totally wipe out.  

Dye notes that some "critics" may have reservations about releasing genetically modified mutants into nature that could wipe out an entire species across the planet.

And it is possible that once experiments begin in the wild, an entire species could be wiped out through genetic engineering, a threat that troubles many critics. ... On the surface, this would appear to be a slam dunk. Why would anyone object to sacrificing mosquitoes to save the lives of millions of children? ... The mosquito has been described as the deadliest animal on the entire planet, and it's safe to say that nearly all humans detest these little beasts, but wiping out an entire species is something that should require a lot of thought and discussion.  ...  My guess is nearly everyone would answer that in the affirmative, but this is a bridge that doesn't lead to nowhere.

Apparently, the scientists from Imperial College London think so too because they say they are still a couple of years from "field tests."

What? Shouldn't we vote on this first or something? Is there a committee in England that has to review and approve of experiments, that should they work, would wipe out an entire species? Maybe the U.N. should set up a special court, so we could have a hearing first? Or at least a Gallup poll.

The world is going to have to set up protocols for making decisions like this. It would be a dangerous precedent to set that any biologist that wants to can breed up some mutant creatures and do experiments on the whole ecosystem.

Lee Dye points out that mosquitoes have adapted to develop immunity to insecticides so how do we know they will not overcome this "sex ratio distortion system" attack?

Update: Pico notes that in this article the authors say field tests are a couple years away,and interprets this to mean only that they would be ready for field tests not that they planned to do them as I originally reported. He provides this additional link to Jonathan Webb  of the BBC writes GM lab mosquitoes may aid malaria fight

 

"If this species were to suffer a population crash, it's hard to see how significant negative side-effects might arise," he explained. "The mosquitoes are not keystone species in their ecosystems. And this technique only affects one species, Anopheles gambiae, among more than 3,000 known species of mosquitoes."

Crisanti and Windbichler think that extinction is unlikely, even with the proposed Y chromosome-driven system, but agree that caution is warranted. "There are a lot of tests to run through," Dr Windbichler said.

"We are still a couple of years from this being applied in the field. It's very promising but there's still a long way to go."

 
 

Well, we will have to wait at least couple more years to find out.

If you suddenly notice major changes to the ecosystem, don't worry, that's probably just some biologist doing some experiments. (Snark.)

Who knows? Maybe your 15 minutes of fame will be a write up in Nature of an experiment done on you?

This is a tough one for me. I'm going to have to think about it more. I'm going to put up a poll to see what readers think. Whenever they do things like this in science fiction stories something unexpected happens.

3:39 PM PT: Malaria - Wikipedia

The disease is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions in a broad band around the equator, including much of Sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas. The World Health Organization estimates that in 2010, there were 219 million documented cases of malaria. That year, the disease killed between 660,000 and 1.2 million people,[1] many of whom were children in Africa.


3:43 PM PT: And, in the interest of "fair and balanced" reporting here's a link to Jurassic Park - Wikipedia

4:15 PM PT: Thanks to Pico who brings us a link to this more detailed article in the BBC.

Pico notes that in this article the authors say field tests are a couple years away,

Jonathan Webb  of the BBC writes GM lab mosquitoes may aid malaria fight

 

"If this species were to suffer a population crash, it's hard to see how significant negative side-effects might arise," he explained. "The mosquitoes are not keystone species in their ecosystems. And this technique only affects one species, Anopheles gambiae, among more than 3,000 known species of mosquitoes."

Crisanti and Windbichler think that extinction is unlikely, even with the proposed Y chromosome-driven system, but agree that caution is warranted. "There are a lot of tests to run through," Dr Windbichler said.

"We are still a couple of years from this being applied in the field. It's very promising but there's still a long way to go."


He also has a direct link to the study which I will put up in a second.

A synthetic sex ratio distortion system for the control of the human malaria mosquito 


Poll

If this experiment holds do you support releasing mutant mosquitoes into the wild to inbreed with and destroy the Anopheles gambiae species that spreads malaria?

15%11 votes
20%14 votes
25%18 votes
8%6 votes
5%4 votes
5%4 votes
4%3 votes
4%3 votes
2%2 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes
1%1 votes
0%0 votes
1%1 votes
2%2 votes

| 70 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (31+ / 0-)

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

    by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 03:13:08 PM PDT

  •  First Question is Does Everyone Who Doesn't Get (16+ / 0-)

    malaria owe royalties to Monstanto?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 03:18:01 PM PDT

  •  Kill them all! (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, blueoasis, Odysseus, G2geek

    No mercy for the dastardly little varmints.

    •  same here. (0+ / 0-)

      They play no unique role in any ecosystem we know of.  Whatever eats them eats other things that can fill that niche.

      Wipe them off the face of the Earth.

      Followed by ticks, fleas, lice, and other disease-carrying insect parasites.

      Somewhere along the line, introduce a decent male human contraceptive to offset the additional population gain and enable bringing our own species back down to sustainable levels.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 10:46:27 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sure there will be no side effects. nt (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, jan4insight, tommymet, Sandino

    nt

  •  Hmmm....and what species eat mosquitoes? (10+ / 0-)

    You can't take an entire species out of the picture without harming the food chain...

    The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

    by wesmorgan1 on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 03:23:55 PM PDT

  •  The photos look surreal. Love them! Thanks for... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, HoundDog, Gwennedd

    this interesting post, HoundDog.

    I share a birthday with John Lennon and Bo Obama.

    by peacestpete on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 03:24:48 PM PDT

    •  You know I always look for the most intense photos (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peacestpete

      peacestpete. That the extra special HoundDog touch. :-) Unless I's stressed out for time.

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 03:47:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the releases should be halted (6+ / 0-)

    until a thorough environmental impact study can be conducted. There are just too many possible consequences that we can't predict without study.

    Any time you release a novel species that can propagate itself, you can't control what happens. And you can't take it back. It's in the environment, reproducing, and evolving in unpredictable new ways. And it will last indefinitely.

    Molecular biologists are often not very well-versed in ecology. That needs to change.

    "In America, the law is king." --Thomas Paine

    by limpidglass on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 03:39:47 PM PDT

    •  Is there any legal way to stop them? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jan4insight, G2geek

      What if they go ahead and release them secretly?  

      We are in knew territory here.

      One of the "breakthroughs" brought up in the PNAC document was that biological warfare agents could be designed just to attack those with certain kinds of genetic code. (i.e. ethnic cleansing.)

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 03:50:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  genetic warfare against mosquitoes... (0+ / 0-)

        ... does not entail genetic warfare against humans.

        Do some preliminary testing, then unleash the altered mosquitoes and celebrate the end of one of humanity's oldest and deadliest enemies.

        We got the future back. Uh-oh.

        by G2geek on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 10:49:32 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  With our luck it will start a zombie appocolypse (4+ / 0-)

    and Wayne LaPierre will say "I told you you would want guns for the zombie attacks."

    Most of the people taking a hard line against us are firmly convinced that they are the last defenders of civilization... The last stronghold of mother, God, home and apple pie and they're full of shit! David Crosby, Journey Thru the Past.

    by Mike S on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 03:50:18 PM PDT

  •  I support wiping out malaria... (6+ / 0-)

    but I'd be a lot more cautious about this. Wiping out such a common mosquito will allow many other species of mosquito to fill a very large niche in nature... it's possible that other mosquitoes that spread other diseases may become much more common. And those may not be all human diseases, there are many species affected by mosquito-borne diseases.

    Also, 95% effective against a type of mosquito may seem like a lot, but like bacteria, they breed fast. Those 5% will breed, and there is always the possibility they could also be ones more prone to breeding fast, or spreading malaria or other diseases. It will create a bottleneck in their population, and they will evolve, and we don't know how ahead of time.

  •  asdf (8+ / 0-)
    Scientists don't plan on releasing these genetically modified mutants into the wild for two more years
    There are no plans to release them into the wild, much less in two years.  They hope to have perfected the technique enough to make it field-applicable in a few years, but that's all. Beware sloppy science journalism.

    The snark is unnecessary: all you have to do is read more deeply into the topic than an ABC News editorial.  Here's a BBC article that includes more in-depth discussion from the researchers, including on the potential ecological impact, and here's the study itself.

    Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

    by pico on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:00:54 PM PDT

    •  Thanks pico. I just reported what Lee Dye (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico

      had reported. I'll make the correction. Thanks.

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:06:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  It seems like it depends on how you interpret this (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pico, Gwennedd, JamieG from Md, G2geek

      paragraph.

      "If this species were to suffer a population crash, it's hard to see how significant negative side-effects might arise," he explained. "The mosquitoes are not keystone species in their ecosystems. And this technique only affects one species, Anopheles gambiae, among more than 3,000 known species of mosquitoes."

      Crisanti and Windbichler think that extinction is unlikely, even with the proposed Y chromosome-driven system, but agree that caution is warranted. "There are a lot of tests to run through," Dr Windbichler said.

      "We are still a couple of years from this being applied in the field. It's very promising but there's still a long way to go."

      So there is a mention of "a couple years from this being applied in the field," and and a defense of the rationale above it.

      I have to read the BBC study more carefully, as it could well be that when he refers to being "a couple years frrom this being applied in the field," he is referring to the elaborate larger facility mentioned earlier in the article for testing it.

      Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:24:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's fair: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        HoundDog

        I think what he's saying in context, though, is that the technology isn't field ready.  Scientists don't have the (legal) means to walk into an environment and start releasing their experiments - even in the best of scenarios, they'd be strung on ethical charges (and rightly so).  

        Have they done a sufficient ecological study? Almost certainly not. I have to imagine that sort of thing precludes any permission to release their experiment, though.

        (Though that, too, might depend on when and where they decide to run field tests, and who's willing to pay for the technology, etc.)

        Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce

        by pico on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:39:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Imperial College has a good reputation and I'm (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek, Gwennedd

          confident these scientist will play by the book.

          After the Zimbardo experiments American universities established "human subjects committees" that one need preapproval from before doing any experiment that could have impacts on people.

          I do expect though in the next 50 years we will see some individual biologists will be doing experiments on their own that will be very difficult to regulate or prevent.

          The general issue is important to think about.

          Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

          by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:00:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Misquitoes are pollinators too. There's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, bull8807

    a certain amount of controversy about it, but there is proof too. (And yeah, that link is ridiculous, but google the topic - there's a lot out there.)

    "You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty." Mohandas Gandhi

    by cv lurking gf on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:34:53 PM PDT

  •  Resistance not likely to be an issue (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, G2geek

    Insects can develop resistance to conventional pesticides through mutations that change how a single enzyme, or neurotransmitter receptor, works. Sometimes a "lucky" mutation in a single codon is enough to lead to resistance to a particular pesticide.

    There's no way I can see for an organism to develop "resistance" to something that is hard-coded in its sexual differentiation like this. It's about as likely as developing resistance to being swatted.

  •  2 issues: pollinators & interbreeding (4+ / 0-)

    Bats are major pollinators in most places and I'm pretty sure they eat mosquitos. So do frogs and other fragile species that are already having trouble. How do we know that we won't cause a whole ecosystem to collapse? We need to be sure other mosquito species can take over the void left by the loss of this particular species.

    Second, can this species interbreed with other mosquito species? Are we SURE?

    Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

    by bull8807 on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:41:05 PM PDT

    •  Excellent questions. (0+ / 0-)

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 08:53:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That anyone would oppose this shocks me (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Albanius, HoundDog, G2geek
    Malaria kills a child somewhere in the world every minute. It infects approximately 219 million people each year (a range of 154 – 289 million), with an estimated 660,00 deaths, mostly children in Africa. Ninety per cent of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where malaria accounts for about one in six of all childhood deaths. The disease also contributes greatly to anaemia among children — a major cause of poor growth and development.
    (From Unicef)

    The researchers at Imperial College may have figured out a way to end that permanently. But some of you would have them stopped, for no better reason than ill-founded anxiety based on your scientific ignorance. Or worse, some bizarre philosophical notion that we must preserve a single species of mosquito at the cost of millions of children's lives.

    But hey, you don't live in Africa, you don't know any of those kids. so what does it matter?

    If people like some of you had had your way in the 1970s, smallpox would still be killing people.

    •  There's a huge difference between vaccination... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, Gwennedd

      ...and techniques like the introduction of species outside their usual habitat or genetic manipulation.

      Wiping an entire species off the map will undoubtedly have some effect upon the ecosystem, even if the species in question isn't a keystone species.

      We already have a case in which a formerly zoophilic Anopheles species adapted to feed from human hosts; I don't think we can predict how other Anopheles species might adapt to the removal of one of the largest members (in Africa) of their genus.

      There's a reason to be cautious; this isn't something that can be undone. Promising vaccine research is underway, and there has been some research in genetic modification that renders Anopheles inhospitable to the protozoan that causes malaria. I'd consider either of those approaches preferable to wiping out entire species of insects.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 08:33:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If I had to vote now, I'd vote with you, at the (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gwennedd, rodentrancher

      time I was writing this I was also thinking that almost every time we've done something like this without carefully looking for unintended side effects we often somehow make things worse.

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:07:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  amen to that. (0+ / 0-)

      Mosquitoes are an unnecessary evil, so do away with them as expeditiously as possible.

      Followed by ticks, fleas, etc.

      We got the future back. Uh-oh.

      by G2geek on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 10:53:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  having had many family members catch malaria (5+ / 0-)

    I'm kind of not too worried about Anopheles gambiae. I doubt it's loss would even be missed in the ecosystem. I'd also think we are wiping out scores, maybe hundreds or even thousands of insect species all the time, unnoticed. I'd go ahead and take a chance on this one.

    I value the lives of every lost child in Africa. I don't know them, and I'll never see them, yet I wish them life.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:53:22 PM PDT

    •  I agree ban nock. I just wanted to think about it (0+ / 0-)

      for a moment before taking a position that might have influenced people in the wrong direction if I was wrong. Put you will notice my first update was the million people a year killed from malaria.

      It would have to be some fairly large side effects to out balance this.

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:10:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Messing with nature requires due diligence (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Albanius, HoundDog, Gwennedd

    There's a reason vaccines have to go through a process of testing and trials even as children continue to die from the diseases they can prevent.

    Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

    by bull8807 on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 04:57:26 PM PDT

    •  I'm VERY concerned about the mass extinction (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, bull8807

      in progress, but Anopheles gambiae is about the last species I would miss, along with Yersinia pestis.

      Wolves, man-eating tigers, and their habitats deserve our urgent concern. Even Clostridium botulinum is arguably worth not eradicating -  I suspect there are leading politicians who would leap to its defense.

      After we've saved the rain forests, coral reefs, boreal forests, wetlands, mangroves, river and lake ecosystems, etc etc, we can worry about saving a remnant of A. gambaie.

      There's no such thing as a free market!

      by Albanius on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 08:19:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Good point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Albanius

        Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

        by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:13:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I certainly agree that this species (0+ / 0-)

        would not be missed by anyone, however my concern is not for Anopheles gambiae specifically but the greater system that its absence could affect. Humans can live without polar bears. The rapid pace of insect species extinction is more alarming. Not because any particular species is valuable, but that the net loss of multiple species is a hit most ecosystems will suffer from. The last thing we want to is remove enough seemingly insignificant species only to find that an environment can no longer sustain itself. Or that the presence of one species was the only thing keeping another species from taking over and causing greater harm.

        I am not against this technology at all, I think it's promising and only the beginning of what we can do. We may even be able to sex selection tinkering to enhance the survival of other species by increasing the ratio of females born instead of males. All I ask is that we take a good hard look before we jump to make sure we understand what we're getting into.

        Is fheàrr fheuchainn na bhith san dùil

        by bull8807 on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 07:32:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Already done, although for Dengue fever (4+ / 0-)

    GM Mosquitos Released to Control Asia's Dengue Fever

    ... using a different technique, (nearly) sterile males, which tends to knock the population back temporarily rather than drive to extinction.

    This is not a sig-line.

    by Joffan on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:33:05 PM PDT

  •  Picnics will never be the same. n/t (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog

    I'm not always political, but when I am I vote Democratic. Stay Democratic, my friends. -The Most Interesting Man in the World

    by boran2 on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 05:41:01 PM PDT

  •  Of course, is these mosquitoes had been (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, G2geek, MGross

    derived by "natural" methods,  they'd be instantly released.

    but instead, more anti-GMO  craziness raises its head (of course!!) in this case

    •  You may be right. (0+ / 0-)

      Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

      by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:17:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What could go wrong? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog

    I could, however, be persuaded to give up Nathan Myhrvold's cool idea of killing them with lasers (see 9:40):

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 06:21:33 PM PDT

  •  cue crackpot cries of "they'll give cancer to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog, G2geek

    everyone they bite !!!!!!" in 3 . . . 2 . . .  1 . . .

    DNA-chopping bugs, zomigod !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 06:29:10 PM PDT

  •  Anopheles is a genus (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ender, HoundDog, Gwennedd

    According to the CDC, there are 30-40 species within that genus that transmit malaria. That's my first thought.

    Light is seen through a small hole.

    by houyhnhnm on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 06:30:59 PM PDT

    •  Yep, which means... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HoundDog, bull8807, houyhnhnm

      ...that other malaria-vector Anopheles species could well expand their habitat to replace An. gambiae. There are 6-7 such species in Africa today.

      The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

      by wesmorgan1 on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 08:35:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  what is it about those species that make them (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        houyhnhnm

        carriers of malaria while other species do not? It must be that the protozoa that causes malaria like to live in them and is not just carried in the blood the way tick spread disease by regurgitating some blood from the previous host?

        Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited. Artistic License - 420420

        by HoundDog on Mon Jun 16, 2014 at 09:20:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The mosquito is essential to their reproduction. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bull8807, houyhnhnm

          Malaria is, in simple terms, a infection by protozoans of the Plasmodium genus. There are five species of Plasmodium that can infect humans; of those, the vast majority of malarial deaths are caused by one species, P. falciparum.

          The fertilzation of P. falciparum gametes and their subsequent maturation take place in the midgut of the Anopheles host mosquito. The P. falciparum Wikipedia page has the details.

          Genetic modification research is underway toward determining--and disabling--the specific characteristics of Anopheles that make them a suitable host for this process.

          The word "parent" is supposed to be a VERB, people...

          by wesmorgan1 on Tue Jun 17, 2014 at 06:09:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This will probably only work as a control... (0+ / 0-)

        ...mechanism.  The study authors seem to feel extinction in unlikely, and I'm inclined to agree.

        It sounds like a much better control mechanism than pesticide.

  •  In the mid 20th century (3+ / 0-)

    we wiped out, in North America, a native fly called Cochliomyia hominivorax, one of the New World Screwworms. It is a nasty creature whose larvae (maggots) feed on living, not necrotic tissue. It was a scourge to the livestock industry and wildlife in the southern US, where even a small wound could lead to infestation and potential death. It remains a scourge in its current range. (As its species name hominovorax says, it is also 'man eating').
    The North American ecosystem did not collapse from the removal of this fly and I doubt the African ecosystem will collapse by removal of one of thousands species of mosquitoes. We need to take due diligence in understanding the consequences, but odds are slim the species will be missed. Unless there is an organism which only utilizes this Anophleles, other than malaria, I suspect there is little danger to the planet in its demise. Good riddance, I say. I won't mourn it any more than I mourn the elimination of the viral species which cause smallpox and rinderpest.

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