The “Nix” gene can turn female mosquitoes into male ones, kill dengue, chikungunya virus

The “Nix” gene can turn female mosquitoes into male ones, kill dengue, chikungunya virus

The “Nix” gene can turn female mosquitoes into male ones, kill dengue, chikungunya virus

Dengue creates havoc in many parts of the world. Thousands of people lose their lives every year from dengue fever, a vector born disease that is very common in Africa, South Asia and Caribbean.

United States was not known to have suffered much from this dreaded mosquito. But last year dengue fever hit the US hard and affected hundreds of people in many parts of the country.

As rains start in June and July in South Asia, the fear of dengue fever rearing its ugly head starts giving tough time to authorities and common people. For a couple of months, in many cities, hospitals are full of people suffering from this fever. Rush is so much that even metro cities that are far better than rural areas, fail to cope with the problem.mosquito

But now there is some hope that dengue fever can be tamed. A latest study suggests that male mosquitoes actually have nothing to do in transmitting dengue fever.

This is the first time that this aspect has come into discussion. Researchers at the Fralin Life Science Institute at Virginia Tech have actually recognized a particular gene found in mosquitoes that carry yellow fever, dengue and chikungunya viruses. Researchers claim that the gene can actually change the sex of a mosquito . Female mosquitoes are the only ones that bite.

Researchers claim that these female mosquitoes actually need the blood to sustain their developing eggs. Researches think that an increase in male mosquitoes may lessen the spread of infectious diseases. A genetic switch which is known as Nix in Aedes aegypti mosquitoes was identified by scientists and is believed responsible in determining the sex of a mosquito.

While talking about the development Zhijian Jake Tu, a professor of biochemistry of Virginia Tech says, “Nix provides us with exciting opportunities to harness mosquito sex in the fight against infectious diseases because maleness is the ultimate disease-refractory trait”.

Researchers claim that they used Nix into the mosquito embryo in which two-thirds of the female mosquitoes developed genitals and testes. When Nix was removed , male mosquitoes turned back to females. Zach Adelman, a professor of entomology says, “We’re not there yet, but the ultimate goal is to be able to establish transgenic lines that express Nix in genetic females to convert them to harmless males”. There is no denying the fact that it is a sort of breakthrough and will help come up with a long term solution of dengue fever.

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