Scientists are working on new method to prevent mosquito-borne diseases like yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya- sex change. The findings of a new study may have given new clues to controlling such diseases- by changing females mosquitoes to harmless males or even completely removing females.
Male mosquitoes are actually not responsible for transmitting dengue fever. According to reports, researchers at the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech identified a gene in a mosquito that carries yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya viruses.
The gene can actually direct the sex of a mosquito. Female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite since the blood is needed to sustain their developing eggs. Researches think that the increase of male mosquitoes may lessen the spread ot the disease.
A genetic switch which is known as Nix in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes is identified by scientists and is believed to cause the difference between males and females. A section of a mosquito’s genome remain to repeat a gene flow.
“Nix provides us with exciting opportunities to harness mosquito sex in the fight against infectious diseases because maleness is the ultimate disease-refractory trait,” said Zhijian Jake Tu, a professor of biochemistry.
Scientist injected Nix into the mosquito embryo in which two-thirds of the female mosquitoes developed genitals and testes. When Nix was removed, male mosquitoes turned to female.
The study begins a new way of controlling the development of mosquitoes by changing females to harmless males or even completely removing females.
“We’re not there yet, but the ultimate goal is to be able to establish transgenic lines that express Nix in genetic females to convert them to harmless males,” stated Zach Adelman, a professor of entomology.