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    Thread: Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Being Released into the Wild

    1. #1
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      Genetically Engineered Mosquitoes Being Released into the Wild

      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/31/sc...pagewanted=all

      I know that this will probably turn out to be harmless, but you can't tell me that there isn't a small part of you that is screaming about how this is a horrible idea.
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    2. #2
      Xei
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      Nothing screams horrible idea to me here. I don't get how it would work though... the genes would all be gone within one generation and the mosquito population would return to normal, no?
      Arch likes this.

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      I'm with Xei on this one. I don't get it...the only mosquitos that would die would be the offspring of the introduced mosquitos...?

    4. #4
      Xei
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      I think it'd work if it only killed female mosquitoes, but I didn't see that mentioned.

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      Good point. I think they are just trying to supress the rate at which they multiply, by introducing a number of non-viable partners into the mix. So, if X number of females average Y number of mates per year, introducing Z number of non-viable partners (those that only produce offspring that will die before adulthood) should reduce the number of viable (normal life-span) offspring produced by the female, over those years.

      At least, that's what I gather out of it. I dunno how well it would work, though, or even how sound the theory is.
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      I think the idea is that mosquitoes don't live for too long, so the net amount of mosquitoes will fall, because a certain percentage falls. Obviously they won't release both female and male mosquitoes.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Marvo View Post
      I think the idea is that mosquitoes don't live for too long, so the net amount of mosquitoes will fall, because a certain percentage falls. Obviously they won't release both female and male mosquitoes.
      Even if the existing mosquitos preferentially mate with the new ones, those genes will obviously be selected against and there would be a temporary reduction in population, at best. Although I don't see why those genes would even be passed on to more than make up for the fact that you've increased the number of mosquitos in the first place, so I doubt even this temporary reduction will happen.

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      It will have an impact, but they will also have to release new ones every year. I suspect that they would breed them in the lab, and release a set amount each year. Breeding mosquito and giving them a drug so they don't die before they can reproduce doesn't should like it would be overly expensive. So even if they have to release them every year it might be more cost efficient than spraying chemicals all over the place.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Alric View Post
      It will have an impact, but they will also have to release new ones every year. I suspect that they would breed them in the lab, and release a set amount each year. Breeding mosquito and giving them a drug so they don't die before they can reproduce doesn't should like it would be overly expensive. So even if they have to release them every year it might be more cost efficient than spraying chemicals all over the place.
      But you're missing the obvious. These mosquitos are added in addition to the existing population. If their new genes spread at the statistically expected rate, there will only be a slight increase in mosquito population in the short run, and then back to normal in the long run.

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      They are just releasing males though, and the environment can only support so many mosquitos at once any way. The idea is that it cause a great deal more competition than normal. So a lot of normal mosquitos will never have children and be eliminated. And the babies born from the modified mosquitos will survive long enough to eat and take up resources from the other mosquitos children, meaning that more of them wont survive. Then the modified ones will suddenly drop dead and you have a net effect of wiping out mosquitos at many stages.

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      Exactly. If you have a female mosquito, a male mosquito and a modified male mosquito, and the female mates with the modfied male, there will be no off spring. All three mosquitoes will die eventually. There you go.

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    12. #12
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      Has anyone considered what kind of consequences the ecosystem could face were one species to drop drastically in population?
      stormcrow likes this.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      Has anyone considered what kind of consequences the ecosystem could face were one species to drop drastically in population?
      No. Fuck mosquitos.
      Xei and tommo like this.

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      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      Fuck yourself then. You are the mosquitos.
      Omnis Dei and tommo like this.
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      I know they're not exactly honey bees but these scientists could do with some history.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    16. #16
      Xei
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      Why don't you email them all this stuff you know about their field?

    17. #17
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      I don't claim to be a know it all Xei, that's your job. I don't claim to be an expert in their field. All I'm saying is they're focusing so hard on their field they're losing sight of the bigger picture. They may understand how genetic modification works but do they even fathom the fragility of the ecosystem?

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


    18. #18
      Rational Spiritualist DrunkenArse's Avatar
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      So Xei and cmind. Are either of you honestly claiming that mosquitos are not an essential part of most ecosystems that they're present in?
      Previously PhilosopherStoned

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      They don't seem at first glace to offer anything symbiotic in nature. What is it you propose they beneficially give back to their environment?

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      This is very worrying. But what's more worrying is the GM sunflowers and other plants that are being used to produce certain pharmaceuticals.
      They actually just grow them out in fields, not even indoors. It baffles me how they can not think about the obvious consequences of that.

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      What is it your worried about?

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      Mosquitoes going extinct. And in the plant drug case, the genes spreading to other populations of the plants.

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      Ohh you meant genetically modified, ok lol.

    24. #24
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      In answer to your question Wayfaerer, Mosquito larvae supply food for many varieties of fish and aquatic predators and the mosquitoes themselves support birds, bats, spiders and dragonflies. Dramatically decreasing their population would threaten many species which are already endangered.
      PhilosopherStoned likes this.

      Everything works out in the end, sometimes even badly.


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      Quote Originally Posted by Omnis Dei View Post
      In answer to your question Wayfaerer, Mosquito larvae supply food for many varieties of fish and aquatic predators and the mosquitoes themselves support birds, bats, spiders and dragonflies. Dramatically decreasing their population would threaten many species which are already endangered.
      But to a far lesser extent than spraying pesticides across the entire area, which they are currently doing.
      Omnis Dei likes this.

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