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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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UK a step closer to ivory ban

News Story 1
 A UK ban on ivory sales is one step closer to coming into force, as the government has introduced the Ivory Bill to parliament. The ban covers items of all ages, rather than just ivory carved after 1947. Anyone breaching the ban will face an unlimited fine or up to five years in jail.

Conservationists have welcomed the bill, which comes less than six weeks after the government published the results of a consultation on this issue. Around 55 African elephants are now slaughtered for their ivory every day and the illegal wildlife trade is estimated to be worth £17 billion a year.  

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News Shorts
Strategic alliance to support development of agri-food sector

The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and Queen’s University Belfast have formed a new strategic alliance that will see both institutions form a research and education partnership.

Under the agreement, the organisations will pool their resources and expertise to support the development of the agri-food sector. It will work across three core themes: enabling innovation, facilitating new ways of working and partnerships.