Verily Life Sciences unit is part of Alphabet Inc. and intends to solve the mosquito problem that laid siege over Fresno, California. Their proposed solution is to add 20 million mosquitoes into the same state. However, there is a catch. All these bugs will be male. On top of that, they will carry special bacteria that are harmless to humans yet can mean the end of a generation of such virus-spreading insects.
Verily to Free 20 Million Mosquitoes with a Surprise Bacteria for Females
On Friday, Alphabet’s department will start the bug operation that is going to free 20 million mosquitoes into the Fresno air. However, all these insects will first have to visit some machines. This equipment is going to inject them with a bacterium that has no effect on people. On the other hand, the purpose of such an element is to render dead eggs that cannot hatch. This way, scientists hope to trim such populations of millions of offspring.
On top of that, the bacterium was specially synthesized to work best on Aedes aegypti. This type of mosquito was chosen as an ideal host by severe viruses such as zika, chikungunya, and dengue. The first such specimens appeared in California’s Central Valley and Fresno back in 2013.
Verily doesn’t modify directly the genes of mosquitoes. Instead, scientists inoculate them with Wolbachia, a type of bacterium that appears under natural circumstances. When male mosquitoes carry such an element, their mating with wild females won’t lead to anything but nonviable eggs. This way, their population which is already in high numbers starts declining.
On top of that, it is confirmed that only female mosquitoes bite people and animals for their blood. Therefore, the scheduled release of extra bugs being all males won’t make the Fresno crisis worse than it is.
There have been other organizations besides Verily such as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that worked with Wolbachia for a decade now. However, it was Alphabet’s unit that devised special equipment to rear, count, and sort mosquitoes by sex in an automatic way.
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