Nix gene can turn blood sucking female mosquitoes into innocent males

Scientists have figured out how to change the gender of a mosquito at the molecular level, removing its deadly qualities. The mosquitoes in question are the dengue-transmitting mosquitoes, which also happen to be female. The team of scientists were able to successfully determine the portion of the genes in question that were responsible for gender, and utilize that information to essentially change the gender of the mosquito. The change is one that is impressive because a harmful female mosquito, is then transformed harmlessly into a male that doesn’t carry any diseases.

This is an interesting swap that scientists have been looking at for some time now. For years, scientists have wondered about altering specific genes to prevent illnesses or the spread of various illnesses in animals, and have hoped that similar methods could be applied to humans. This is something that’s happening on a microscopic level, but something that’s happening on a distinct basis nonetheless. Zhijian Jake Tu, a professor at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences points out that the gene in question, and scientists ability to alter it, is very significant. He said, “Nix provides us with exciting opportunities to harness mosquito sex in the fight against infectious diseases because maleness is the ultimate disease-refractory trait.”


Brantley Hall, who was the co-author of the paper pointed out that, “When we injected Nix into mosquito embryos, we found that more than two-thirds of the female mosquitoes developed male genitals and testes.” This is significant because yellow fever is one of the deadliest diseases that exist in the wild, and is carried predominantly by mosquitoes. There are roughly 200,000 cases each year, and 30,000 of those cases result in death.

Zach Adelman, another co-author of the paper said that this was something scientists had been working on for decades. Specifically, scientists had known about this gene for 70 years, and had been working to locate it throughout the entire process. However, this team was able to find it in a place that hadn’t ever been touched before. It wasn’t hidden, either, according to the team. It was right in plain sight, but something that scientists hadn’t thought of prior to that.

One area in particular where this significantly benefits the general population is through the actual release process. Previously, there has been a lot of energy and money thrown at actually making sterile males, or going through the process of cutting off the disease carrying portions of females. Mosquitoes are needed, but now, scientists have a less-costly way of repopulating the wild with mosquitoes in a region that otherwise was inundated with the deadly variety.

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  • Let me know when there is an easy way to administer this agent so that all the mosquitoes in a given area are affected. All they’re talking about in here is how to inject it into an egg or embryo.

    In the meantime I would rather they simply find a way to eradicate these worthless insects from the planet.