Spermless Mosquitoes Could Reduce Spread of Malaria, Study Suggests

In an effort to curb the spread of malaria, researchers from Britain and Italy have genetically altered male mosquitoes so that they do not produce sperm, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Los Angeles Times’ “Booster Shots” blog reports (Khan, 8/8).

“Scientists at Imperial College London said that by genetically tweaking male mosquitoes to produce no sperm, females would still mate with them but would lay unfertilized eggs that would not hatch into mosquito larvae,” Agence France-Presse writes (8/8). In the study, the females, who mate only once in their life, did not attempt to mate again even though they produced unfertilized eggs, BBC News notes. “Experts say that this is an important first step toward releasing sterile males into the wild to reduce the size of mosquito populations,” the news service writes (Carpenter, 8/8). “The next challenge is finding a way to produce sterile males in sufficient quantity,” malaria researcher Elena Levashina of the French Centre for Scientific Research said, according to Nature (Gilbert, 8/8).