The experiment successfully reduced the female population of the Tiger Tiger Mosquito, the main source of bites and transmission of diseases, up to 94%, reducing 97% of reported human bites.
It is not the first attempt by researchers to reduce mosquito populations around the world. In 2018, scientists at Imperial College of London used gene editing tools to make female mosquitoes sterile, while men develop normally and continue to spread genetic mutation.
Xi Zhiyong, one of the Chinese study researchers, a professor at Michigan State University, has been a pioneer in this field of study for a long time. Running a mosquito factory in southern China, he previously tried to use sterile michigan mosquitoes to mate with unchanged females.
"We are building good mosquitoes that can help us fight against the bad guys," Xi told CNN in 2016.
In the new study, published by the International Journal of Science, Xi and his colleagues tried to further reduce mosquitoes by limiting the reproductive capacity of both men and women.
Female mosquitoes were sterilized with low level radiation, while males were infected with Wolbachia bacteria, then both were released during the 2016 and 2017 maximum seasons in two islands near the city of Guangzhou.
The results were so successful that they eradicated almost all the population of female mosquitoes on both islands.
In a statement, mosquito ecologist Peter Armbruster said the trial was one of the most successful mosquito reduction trials hitherto that gave rise to the survival of mosquitoes.
Experts said that Asian tiger mosquitoes are especially difficult to eradicate using conventional methods of population control, such as pesticides and the removal of stagnant water where insects put their eggs.
According to the authors of the study, white-striped mosquitoes have been described as "highly invasive" and have spread to almost all continents in Asia for the last 40 years.
Mosquitoes pose serious threats to human health beyond irritating bites. The World Health Organization (WHO) has described insects as "one of the deadliest animals in the world," because of its ability to quickly spread fatal diseases such as dengue and malaria.
Guangzhou, a densely populated urban metropolis with a tropical climate, saw around 37,350 people infected with dengue during an outbreak in 2014.
This month, the health authorities of the Philippines declared a "national dengue alert" after more than 450 people were killed by the virus in the first half of 2019.
According to the International Journal of Science, there is currently no vaccine or effective treatment for most mosquito-borne diseases, since control of insect populations is one of the most effective methods of control.
"A new tool like the one described in this document is needed," Dobson said.
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