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Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have created a new system named precision-guided Sterile Insect Technique(pgSIT) that restrains populations of mosquitoes.
What is the Sterile Insect Technique?
The sterile insect technique is a method of biological insect control whereby overwhelming numbers of sterile insects are released into the wild.
The released insects are preferably male as this is more cost-effective and the females may in some situations cause damage by laying eggs in the crop, or, in the case of mosquitoes, taking blood from humans.
The sterile male insects compete with wild males to mate with the females. Females that mate with a sterile male produce no offspring, thus reducing the next generation’s population.
What is the precision-guided Sterile Insect Technique(pgSIT)?
It is a new scalable genetic control system that uses a CRISPR-based technology to engineer deployable mosquitoes that can suppress populations.
Males don’t transmit diseases, so the idea is to release more and more sterile males. The population of mosquitos can be suppressed without relying on harmful chemicals and insecticides.
Hence, this technique basically alters genes linked to male fertility—creating sterile offspring—and female flight in Aedes aegypti.
PgSIT mechanistically relies on a dominant genetic technology that enables simultaneous sexing and sterilization. Thus facilitating the release of eggs into the environment ensuring only sterile adult males emerge.
pgSIT eggs can be shipped to a location threatened by mosquito-borne disease or developed at an on-site facility that could produce the eggs for nearby deployment.
Once the pgSIT eggs are released in the wild, sterile pgSIT males will emerge and eventually mate with females, driving down the wild population as needed.
Source: This post is based on the article “New research: Tech based on CRISPR to control growth of mosquitoes” published in Indian Express on 14th September 2021.