Gene Drive Supplement

Study Shows Fitness and Behavior of GM Mosquitoes in Africa

February 23, 2022

Scientists presented the results of the first-ever small-scale release of genetically modified mosquitoes in Africa – a major milestone for the gene drive research field. The African region carries a disproportionately high share of the global malaria burden – 95% of the 241 million cases and 96% of the 627,000 deaths, mostly children less than five years old.

Researchers from the Institut de Recherche en Sciences de la Santé (IRSS), part of the Target Malaria's partner institution in Burkina Faso, released 14,850 genetically modified mosquitoes (Anopheles coluzzii species) in July 2019 to evaluate their daily survival rate as well as their ability to join in swarming activities in a natural environment. The mosquitoes did not carry the gene drive technology but were modified to be sterile – they could mate with female mosquitoes but not produce offspring.

The genetically modified mosquitoes were observed for seven months and findings provide insights into the fitness and behavior of genetically modified males. It was found that they participated in swarming activities just like the mosquitoes in the wild. The results also confirmed the laboratory and modeling studies showing that the genetically modified mosquitoes were less mobile and had lower survival rates compared to their non-modified counterparts. Furthermore, the transgene was undetected in the study population at the end of the released sterile male's life cycle.

Read more from the research article in Nature Communications and news release in SeeTV.

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