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Mosquitoes are a key contributor to the spread of potentially deadly diseases such as dengue and malaria, as they harbor parasites and viruses that are spread when mosquitoes bite humans and animals. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have found an effective way to edit the genes of mosquitoes.  Shengzhang Dong, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology of the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, says this new technique opens the door for future research into genetically modifying mosquitoes so they cannot carry and transmit viruses and parasites that are harmful to humans.

Aedes_aegypti_biting_human“By successfully editing specific genes in the Aedes aegytpi, the mosquito species which transmits the dengue virus, we have established techniques which can be used in future research to target the virus-carrying capabilities of this mosquito,” said Dong, who is the first author of the study.

For their study, Dong and his colleagues used the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing system, and adapted it for use in mosquitoes to disrupt the blue fluorescent eye color gene in a previously generated genetically-modified mosquito line.  As a consequence, future generations of these mosquitoes no longer showed the blue color, but still showed the red color expression in their eyes. This new trait was stably inherited over several mosquito generations.

http://www.geneticliteracyproject.org/2015/09/04/using-crispr-gene-editing-shut-mosquitoes-disease-carriers/

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