it doesnt take a rocket scientist to think up of the idea of using an insect parasite to kill infection-borne mosquitoes. like mozzies which transmit dengue and malaria.
but it does take a genetist to manipulate a strain of the parasite to enable it to infect mozzies, which it normally doesnt.
Wolbachia, is an insect based parasite. after some Godly work on some genes, a particular straing of Wolbachia can now do these 4 things:
1. it attacks mozzies (it usually doesnt)
2. it cuts the lifespan of females infected with malaria or dengue by half. and its the female mozzies that bite us.
3. gives mozzies resistance to Plasmodium. Plasmodium is a virus closely related to the ones that cause malaria, dengue and chikungunya.
4. Infected males can only mate successfully with an infected female, if the survive long enough. this is called cytoplasmic incompatibility
this is an interesting article. which goes on to explain briefly how each of the 4 points above are achieved. its quite clever actually. a biological way to wipe out mozzie-bourne infections. natural (though genetically manipulated).
though effects and evolution/adaptation/development possibilities of the new O’Neill’s strain wont be known till many decades later, for now, this just seems to be a self-run mozzie killing machine!
as the article says, i quote, “Infected mosquitoes are less likely to carry parasites that cause human diseases, and those that do, wont live long enough to spread them.”