Release of 20 million mosquitoes aims to curb mosquito population

'Mosquito factory' churns out sterile males produced without genetic modification to fight Zika

Researchers from Google's sister company will release 20 million sterile mosquitoes, in an attempt to curb the population of these pests.

His street is one that a white van circles each morning releasing one million male aedes aegypti mosquitoes a week.

Debug Fresno will target the aedes aegypti mosquito, which can transmit diseases like Zika, dengue and chikungunya.

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While it may sound counter-intuitive, the scientists plan to release millions of sterile male mosquitoes so they can mate with wild female mosquitoes. The summer effort will be Verily's first field study that involves sterile mosquitoes in the U.S. "[However] Humans were hundreds of times more likely to spread pathogens via air travel, even in the absence of any mosquito control".

"If we can show that this technique can work, I'm confident we can make it a sustainable business because the burden of these mosquitoes is enormous", said Verily engineering chief Linus Upson, who helped create Google's Chrome web browser and now leads Debug. Since uninfected females don't have the corresponding key to unlock the male's Wolbachia-modified genes, the eggs from these mismatched couplings never develop.

For any resident of California anxious about a sudden increase in mosquitos during the trial, it is worth noting that males do not bite or transmit the disease to humans. "Because the effect of Wolbachia infection on insect reproduction favours the survival of Wolbachia-infected females over uninfected females, Wolbachia can rapidly spread through an insect population". MosquitoMate worked with CMAD to release about 800,000 Wolbachia-infected males in 2016. So, in September 2016, the EPA renewed the permit to continue, and expand, the experiment.

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