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Crop Biotech Update

US EPA Reviews Plans to Infect Mosquitoes with Bacteria to Stop Disease

June 1, 2016

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reviewing an application from MosquitoMate to use the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis as a pesticide against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus).

MosquitoMate plans to rear mosquitoes infected with a particular strain of Wolbachia and releasing the males into the environment. When these male mosquitoes mate with wild females who do not carry the same strain of Wolbachia, the resulting fertilized eggs don't hatch, because the paternal chromosomes do not form properly. As infected male mosquitoes continue to be released to breed with wild partners, the pest population dwindles.

MosquitoMate is also using Wolbachia to target the mosquito Aedes aegypti, thought to be the main vector for Zika. The firm began field trials this month of infected A. aegypti mosquitoes in Clovis, California, and has applied to conduct similar tests in Florida and in Orange County, California.

More information available in Nature News.