Controlling Pests With Their GM Doubles

They may look like ordinary male insects, but they contain genes that kill some or all of their offspring. One test involving GM mosquitoes showed an 80-96 percent decrease in the mosquito population within six months.

What's the Latest Development?


UK-based biotech company Oxitec has applied for permission to conduct a first-in-Europe field trial of its genetically-modified olive fruit flies, which they say could serve as potent pest control for olive growers. The all-male group look like their counterparts, and have so far successfully competed with them for mates. However, when they mate, they pass on special genes to their offspring. If those offspring are female, they will die while still larvae; if male, they will live to pass on those genes to a new generation. Oxitec already has a trial in progress using similarly modified mosquitoes in Brazil; a preparatory test study resulted in a population decrease of between 80 and 96 percent within six months. 

What's the Big Idea?

Both insects were designed to combat two large problems -- crop loss and disease -- that cost millions every year. Imperial College's Tony Nolan says the benefit of using GM "doubles" is that they only look for their own kind, so to speak, whereas insecticides can unintentionally kill unrelated and often harmless species. Unsurprisingly, Oxitec has its detractors, who fear that the insects could escape their test locales and spread into the larger ecosystem.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at New Scientist

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Understand your own mind and goals via bullet journaling

Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.

Videos
  • Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
  • The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
  • One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Keep reading Show less