Dengue fever, a painful and potentially deadly virus that causes joint pain extreme enough to earn the nickname "bonecrusher disease", infects upwards of 100 million people every year. With no vaccine and no cure, there is little anyone can do to protect the 2.5 billion people currently at risk for infection. But University of California, Irvine professor Anthony James believes he can turn the very mosquitoes that spread the virus into the vector for prevention.
James has genetically engineered a special breed of mosquito with a sex-linked gene causing malformed wings. The male mosquitoes that carry the gene fly fine, but female offspring of those males cannot get airborne. And since it's the females that spread dengue fever, James believes that releasing these genetically engineered males into the wild could result in proliferation of impotent female mosquitoes, and suppress the disease in under a year.
Naturally, this plan presents some logistical challenges. Aside from the vast number of male mosquitoes required to induce enough evolution to significantly lower dengue fever transmission, the flightless females may also fail to reproduce as effectively as their unmutated counterparts, ending any benefits in a single generation. In this case, that makes evolution both the cure and the impediment.
I don't want to be a troll or anything, but wouldn't this be like releasing a crippled cheetah into the wild and hoping it would out compete the rest. Lets face it, natural selection doesn't permit this to succeed. It might give us insight to mosquito behavior for future research though.
I think the point was missed. These altered males will "infect" healthy females to produce more altered (but physically capable) males and altered (malformed wing) females.
The second generation females do not have to breed.
.....how will this plan effect the natural food chain? The decrease of airborne mosquitoes will limit the food supply of other animals that depend on them for food. Solving one problem may create a larger one down the road...
Just some quick research shows that female mosquitoes live for about 1-2 weeks(can live for up to a month), and the time from fertilization to flying in mosquitoes is about 5-14 days.
Since the males would have to reproduce with the current females to create the infected offspring, there would really be no natural selection in the first generation, as there is no(reported at least) differences between the infected males and the normal males.
from there, any female offspring from an infected male wouldnt be able to fly. it doesnt say they wont be able to reproduce. They grow up in water, and reproduce in water, so infected females could still reproduce. Though they might be more likely to be eaten by predators if they are unable to fly away. However, if the females are unable to eat they would die off. Additionally, in some species, the female must feast on blood before being able to reproduce.
so in the end, the fact of the female not being able to fly has little effect on the natural selection, seeing as how the male offspring from any male mosquito that is infected(no matter if that male mated with an infected female or not) is infected himself.
all in all, if this works as presented, it could curb the Dengue Fever problem, along with causing (at least certain) species of mosquitoes to go extinct.