Imagine my shock.
Via: New York Post:
Life has found a way.
In what sounds like the plot to a Syfy channel original movie, a plan to curb a mosquito population has backfired spectacularly, making the disease-carriers even more resilient to pest-control measures.
The plan involved genetically altering mosquitoes in Brazil so their babies would die instantly, reported Futurism.
However, the company that hatched the plan, British Biotech firm Oxitec Ltd., then released the mutant mosquitoes with the hope that they’d breed with the wild insects and spread the entomological SIDS gene, causing the population to plummet substantially.
This, they pronounced, optimistically, would drastically reduce mosquito-borne diseases such as Zika and dengue fever.
Researchers think that the wild female mosquitoes may have grown wise to the measure and began avoiding the genetically modified males, reported New Atlas.
And if that wasn’t Jurassic Park enough, the wild mosquitoes could have developed a resiliency to the measure, making their population even harder to quash. Now, the region has been left with a huge population of hybrids (combinations of the Brazilian native mosquitoes and the Cuban and Mexican breeds that were genetically altered in the lab) — an outcome that could make the entire population more resistant to the original mosquito control measures.
“The claim was that genes from the release strain would not get into the general population because offspring would die,” Yale researcher Jeffrey Powell, one of the authors of the study, told New Atlas. “That obviously was not what happened.”
While scientists say that the new hybrids don’t pose an immediate threat, it is unclear if the same will hold true for future generations, according to Powell.
“It is the unanticipated outcome that is concerning,” he said.
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