讨厌的蚊子,控制你没道理
BBC · 2011/08/10
科学家已研制出无精子的蚊子,旨在遏制疟疾的传播。

科学家已研制出无精子雄蚊,旨在遏制疟疾的传播。

蚊子交配

专家称,在蚊子种群规模控制方面,往野外释放无生育能力蚊子是重要的第一步。

全球每年大约1百万人死于疟疾,仅在非洲,死亡儿童的20%由疟疾所致。

这项工作发表在国家科学院期刊上Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences。

类似的方法已成功地应用在日本土豆象鼻虫和热带螺旋蝇。

然而,暴露在辐射下的雄性蚊子容易表现出体弱,而不能在高难度的飞行交配中胜出,因此不能控制种群的数量。

如今,科学家已开发出新方法用于研制无精子雄蚊。

伦敦帝国学院的昆虫学家Flaminia Catteruccia和她的学生Janis Thailayil共同寻找新方法,希望雄蚊既不能生育又不影响交配飞行。为了抑制zpg基因表达,Thailayil用RNA微片段注入到10000个蚊子胚胎中,希望能阻止正常精细胞的发育。

数月之后,研究人员发现大约100个无精子雄蚊,此外,雌性蚊子把它们当做可育蚊子进行交配。

Catteruccia解释道,雌性蚊子生命周期只繁殖一次,如果科学家能够诱骗它们相信已经成功交配,雌性蚊子将排出未受精的卵。原则上,连续数代释放大量不育雄蚊,所有的雌蚊将会和无精子雄蚊交配,我们就可以控制蚊子种群的数量。

这一方法将逐步控制蚊子的种群数量,并希望能够应用在控制对人类有害的昆虫数量。(生物探索译 Pobee)

生物探索推荐英文原文

Spermless mosquitoes hold promise to stop malaria

Scientists have created spermless mosquitoes in an effort to curb the spread of malaria.

Experts say that this is an important first step toward releasing sterile males into the wild to reduce the size of mosquito populations.

Malaria kills around one million people worldwide every year, and in Africa alone, accounts for 20% of all childhood deaths.

The work is reported in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Insect sterilisation isn't new: scientists have attempted to control the sleeping sickness-carrying tsetse fly by exposing them to radiation to render them sterile.

A similar approach has been successfully used against the potatoes weevil in Japan and the tropical screwworm that attacks cattle.

Frail fly

However, exposing mosquitoes to radiation has tended to leave male mosquitoes frail, and unable to compete in the frenzied mating aerobatics that Anopheles gambiae - the world's most efficient malaria vector - enjoys.

Now scientists have developed an alternative route to mosquito sterility.

Entomologist Flaminia Catteruccia from Imperial College London enlisted the help of her graduate student Janis Thailayil in the search for how to make male mosquitoes sterile but leave them otherwise unharmed.

Mr Thailayil injected 10,000 mosquito embryos with tiny fragments of RNA designed to turn off a gene - called zpg - that is essential for normal sperm development.

After months of laborious work, the researchers created around 100 spermless mosquitoes, and showed that females were just as willing to mate with these males as with fertile ones.

Dr Catteruccia explains that female mosquitoes mate only once in their lives. If scientists can trick them into thinking that they have successfully mated, then they will continue to lay their eggs without knowing that they have not been fertilised.

"You [could] in principle release large numbers of sterile males over many generations… and eventually all the females will have mated with the sterile males and…you can really reduce the number of mosquitoes," explained Dr Catteruccia.

This would gradually reduce the number of hatching mosquitoes. And hopefully help eradicate what many consider to be the single most dangerous insect species for mankind.

However, Dr Catterucci warns that this is only a proof of principle. The method her team used to create the spermless males would be far too labour-intensive to flood wild populations with enough spermless males to have any effect on their numbers.

However, knowing that females don't notice whether they are receiving sperm or not is still an important step, she said.

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