November 20, 2017

Google sister company Debug to release 20 million mosquitoes infected with bacteria to stop wild bugs reproducing in Fresno experiment

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By CHEYENNE MACDONALD From DAILYMAIL.COM

 

  • Today [July 14], Verily is launching project to release 20 million mosquitoes in Fresno
  • These ‘good bugs’ are infected with a bacteria that causes them to be sterile
  • The experts say this approach, unlike others, does not use genetic engineering
  • When they mate with wild populations, bugs will produce eggs that can’t hatch

It could be the plot of a post-apocalyptic science fiction film – a tech firm is set to release 20 million bacteria-filled mosquitoes in the heart of California.

But, the experts spearheading the effort say it could finally provide a way to take on the ‘deadliest animal in the world,’ preventing mosquito-borne illnesses and ultimately saving lives.

Unlike other modern approaches to eradicate ‘bad bugs,’ the technique launched today by Verily’s Debug project doesn’t rely on genetic engineering; instead, it uses a naturally occurring bacteria that causes them to produce dud eggs.

Debug Fresno will be the first field study in the United States to employ this control method, which effectively renders the ‘bad bugs’ sterile.

The effort is led by , an offshoot of Google’s parent company , in collaboration with MosquitoMate and ’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District.’

The so-called ‘good bugs’ are infected with the naturally-occurring bacteria called Wolbachia to target the invasive Aedes aegypti mosquito.

This species is known to carry an array of potentially deadly diseases such as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya.

When released across Fresno to mate with the wild populations, these sterile males and wild females will not be able to successfully breed.

‘You separate the males, because male mosquitoes can’t bite,’ according to a video explaining the project.

‘Then when you release those males into the wild, they find bad bugs to mate with.

HOW TECH FIRMS WILL TAKE ON MOSQUITOES

Smart traps – Roughly the size of large birdhouses, these smart traps use robotics, infrared sensors, machine learning and cloud computing to help health officials keep tabs on potential disease carriers.

Genetic modifications – Oxitec, an Oxford-based division of Germantown, , is creating male mosquitoes genetically modified to be sterile.

Automatic sorting – A new technique for sorting male and female mosquito larvae may lead to the use of sterile males.

MosquitoMate’s labs in Lexington, immature mosquitoes are forced through a sieve-like mechanism that separates smaller males from females

IMAGE: A tech firm is set to release 20 million bacteria-filled mosquitos in the heart of California. The technique launched today by Verily’s Debug project uses a naturally occurring bacteria that causes them to produce dud eggs

For more on this story and video go to: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4698024/Debug-release-20-million-mosquitoes-Fresno.html#ixzz4mwHxPLz0

 

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