Bioengineering firm Oxitec says its trial of genetic modified mosquitos in the Florida Keys has had the hoped-for results, Nature News reports.
Oxitec genetically modified male Aedes aegypti mosquitos so that when they mate with wild female mosquitos, any resulting female offspring don't survive to adulthood. Because of that, the wild mosquito population should decline along with any mosquito-borne diseases like dengue fever or Zika. The company's Florida trial began in 2021, following some local opposition.
According to Nature News, some data from the trial is in. Oxitec researchers collected 22,000 eggs from various traps to watch them hatch in the lab. They found that when male Oxitec Ae. aegypti mosquitos mated with the wild females, the female offspring did inherit the lethal gene and die before reaching adulthood, Nature News says. It adds that the lethal gene persisted in the local population for about two to three months, or about three mosquito generations, and was not found more than 400 meters away from the release site.
Nature News notes that this trial did not look at whether the approach led to a decrease in the local mosquito population — though an expanded trial will — or whether it reduced the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases.