Mosquito gene drive gets new target
The discovery was disclosed by Omar Akbari (UC San Diego) at Twitter:
We just discovered a novel gene that is 100% essential for female flight in Aedes aegypti. KO does not affect Males. A nice paper on this will follow next year – stay posted.TT
Messages were accompanied by short videos showing flightless females and flying males, probably after directed knock-out of the gene:
Females of mosquitos are the main vectors of multiple diseases in warm-climate areas. Restricting female flight effectively eradicates diseases transmitted by them, as well as renders females unable to mate. At the same time, flying males would ensure that introduced genetic changes will spread through remaining flying females.
Aedes aegypti is responsible for dengue fever, yellow fewer, Zika, Mayaro, and chikunguya.
This is not the first female-specific flightless gene in A. aegypti. In 2010 scientists from University of Oxford and UC Irvine found AeAct-4 gene. Since then, obviously, it was not used to eradicate A. aegypti, but with CRISPR-based gene drives scientists are closing in on first successful field trials.