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The United States could soon become the first country to approve the commercial use of a common bacterium to fight the spread of mosquitoes that can transmit viruses such as Zika, dengue and Chikungunya.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reviewing an application from the biotechnology start-up MosquitoMate to use the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). The company plans to marketWolbachia as a pesticide — one that kills only mosquitoes, and leaves other insects untouched.
MosquitoMate’s strategy involves rearing mosquitoes infected with a particular strain of Wolbachia and releasing the males into the environment. When these male mosquitoes mate with wild females who do not carry the same strain of Wolbachia, the resulting fertilized eggs don’t hatch, because the paternal chromosomes do not form properly.
Eight countries have now reported cases of microcephaly or other fetal birth defects that are probably caused by Zika, leading officials in many areas to consider new options for reducing mosquito populations.
Read full, original post: U.S. Reviews Plan to Infect Mosquitoes with Bacteria to Stop Disease