Oxford University researchers have come up with a novel method of curbing mosquito related diseases by releasing sterile male mosquitoes to compete with other male mosquitoes for mates.
More than 20,000 mosquitoes of aedes aegypti species were released by the researchers over a 25-acre area of Grand Cayman Island in the Caribbean. The aedes aegypti species of mosquitoes are one of the major carriers of dengue fever which affects more than a 100 million people worldwide.
The researchers said that the mating success rate of these genetically modified mosquitoes more than half as good as their fertile rivals, leading to hopes that a bigger trial could be conducted to test the effectiveness of such a method in reducing mosquito population.
"We were really surprised how well they did. For this method, you just need to get a reasonable proportion of the females to mate with GM males - you'll never get the males as competitive as the wild ones, but they don't have to be, they just have to be reasonably good", lead researcher Luke Alphey said. The report has been published in the journal Nature Biotechnology.