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CRISPR to control growth of mosquitoes

Date: 14 September 2021 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Researchers have made use of CRISPR-based genetic engineering to prevent growth of disease-causing mosquito population.

 

Background

The new method has been christened precision-guided sterile insect technique (pgSIT), which creates sterile mosquitoes.

 

Details

  • The technique targets genes linked to male fertility and female flight in Aedes aegypti, which is the most likely culprit.

  • The Aedes aegypti mosquito is responsible for spreading diseases such as dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika.

  • The pgSIT CRISPR technique will make male mosquitoes sterile and female mosquitoes flightless. This will reduce their numbers drastically.

  • The main advantage of the technique is self-limiting and is not predicted to persist or spread in the environment. This will make it acceptable.

 

Working

  • The pgSIT eggs will be developed in laboratory and later will be transported to an on-site facility in the vicinity of disease-infected area.

  • Sterile pgSIT males will emerge and eventually mate with females after the pgSIT eggs are released in the wild. They will reduce the wild population of mosquitoes.

 

Benefits

The pgSIT technology could be directed to other species that spread disease making it an acceptable method.

 

Significance

  • The mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika, malaria, and West Nile have moved beyond tropical areas to spread to countries such as USA.

  • The technique will attack the mosquito rather than the parasite. It can turn beneficial if properly implemented.

 

CRISPR-Cas9 technology

  • Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats is a family of DNA sequences found in the genomes of prokaryotic organisms such as bacteria and archaea.

  • The CRISPR-associated (Cas) endonuclease, or enzyme acts as “molecular scissors” to cut DNA at a location specified by a guide RNA.