Genetically modified mosquitoes released in Malaysia

6,000 Aedes mosquitoes (the species that transmits dengue) were released in an uninhabited site in the center of the country. The purpose of the field trial is to study the dispersal and life span of these modified mosquitoes under natural conditions. The idea is simple:  replace natural mosquitoes with insects engineered to be either resistant to a microbe or ones with defective offspring in later generations as in this case. Still, in order to replace existing populations, new mosquitoes must out-compete their natural relatives. Not surprisingly, many civil society groups are concerned about potential harms if a new super mosquito that is able to transmit diseases emerges. I’m just skeptical that a single new variant could dominate products of long-term evolution especially across multiple ecological niches. Similar research is underway with malaria transmitting Anopheles mosquitoes – is it as far along?

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