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Study a potential ‘game-changer’ for mosquito control
Only female mosquitoes bite and transmit pathogens that cause disease.

Research will enable scientists to eliminate females

New research on sex determination in mosquitoes could have a ‘game-changing impact’ on the control of these pests and other insects, according to scientists at The Pirbright Institute.

It is only female mosquitoes that bite and transmit pathogens that cause disease. As such, scientists believe that the manipulation of the sex determination pathway genes, leading to the elimination of females, could have a profound effect on new approaches to mosquito control.

In a recent study, researchers from the Pirbright Institute identified a male-specific gene in a mosquito that transmits malaria. The gene, named Yob, is necessary for the development of males, but lethal to females if incorrectly activated.

In a new study, researchers will expose the molecules which, besides Yob, are involved in the regulation of early development in both male and female mosquitoes.

Lead researcher Dr Jaroslaw Krzywinski commented: “Better understanding of the components of the pathway is instrumental to the creation of new genetic approaches to controlling mosquito-borne diseases. It will enable us to implement genetic modification technology to cause female lethality or, potentially the reversal of genetic females into males; producing male-only mosquito generations.

“The outputs of this study will also enable identification of the sex determination genes in other insect pests such as Aedes and Culex mosquitoes and will stimulate new avenues of research on their genetic control.”

The research project, “Mechanisms of sex determination in Anopheles and they implementation to control mosquito vectors”, will be funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

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Endangered turtle born at London Zoo

News Story 1
 An endangered spiny hill turtle has become the first of its kind to hatch at ZSL London Zoo - just in time for World Turtle Day (23 May).

Zookeepers filmed the moment the turtle came out of its shell on a time lapse camera, after keeping a watchful eye on the egg during its 136 day incubation period.

The turtle weighed a tiny 33g at birth and measured just 61mm, although it will eventually grow to around 27cm in size. 

News Shorts
Melissa Donald elected president of BVA Scottish Branch

RCVS Council member Melissa Donald has been elected for a two-year term as president of BVA’s Scottish Branch. She said she was “honoured” to be elected and hopes to provide a strong voice for veterinary surgeons, particularly at a national level. One of her first tasks will be to give evidence to the Scottish government on tail shortening of dogs, before parliament votes on whether to change the current legislation.

Melissa graduated from Glasgow veterinary school and worked as a production animal vet at Iowa State University, USA, for three years, before returning to Ayrshire to work in mixed practice. She then spent 25 years developing a small animal practice with her husband and has been involved with the BVA for many years. Recently, she took the decision to step back from clinical practice and currently runs a smallholding in the Ayrshire Hills.