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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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Classroom pets on the decline

News Story 1
 New research has found there are fewer pets in UK classrooms than in previous generations - despite 88 per cent of parents believing it significantly helps a child’s social skills and development.

More than half of the parents surveyed by Pets at Home (51 per cent) had a class pet as a child, compared to 46 per cent of children today.

The survey also found that non-traditional animals such as chickens, tadpoles, caterpillars and stick insects are becoming increasingly popular alternatives as classroom pets.  

News Shorts
BVA survey seeks views on surveillance

Vets who use veterinary scanning surveillance networks are being asked to complete a survey to help ensure the networks are fully able to protect animals in the UK.

‘Surveillance use, understanding and engagement across the veterinary profession’ is the first of a series of surveillance surveys that will also include localised surveys for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Drafted by members of BVA’s Surveillance Working Group, it will run until Friday, 31 August 2017. Data collected will inform BVA’s policy position ensuring it is representative of disease surveillance across the UK.