Male mosquitoes actually has nothing to do in transmitting dengue fever . Researchers at the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech identified a certain gene found in mosquitoes that carry yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya viruses . The gene can actually change the sex of a mosquito . Female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite. They need the blood to sustain their developing eggs. Researches think that an increase in male mosquitoes may lessen the spread of infectious diseases.
A genetic switch which is known as Nix in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes was identified by scientists and is believed responsible in determining the sex of a mosquito.
“Nix provides us with exciting opportunities to harness mosquito sex in the fight against infectious diseases because maleness is the ultimate disease-refractory trait,” said Zhijian Jake Tu, a professor of biochemistry.
Scientist injected Nix into the mosquito embryo in which two-thirds of the female mosquitoes developed genitals and testes . When Nix was removed , male mosquitoes turned back to females.
The study provides us a new way of controlling the development of mosquitoes by changing females to harmless males or even completely removing females.
“We’re not there yet, but the ultimate goal is to be able to establish transgenic lines that express Nix in genetic females to convert them to harmless males,” stated Zach Adelman, a professor of entomology.