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GM Mosquitoes - PMF IAS

Credit: The Guardian

  • The release is part of the ‘Djibouti Friendly Mosquito Programme’ started two years ago to stop the spread of Anopheles stephensi, an invasive species of mosquito.
  • Genetic modification of mosquitoes, dubbed a method that “uses mosquitoes to fight mosquitoes”,  involves releasing genetically engineered male mosquitoes into the wild, which then mate with females.
  • The introduced gene prevents female offspring from surviving to adulthood, effectively reducing the population of malaria-transmitting mosquitoes.
  • Similar technology has been successfully used in Brazil, the Cayman Islands, Panama, and India.
  • Ninety per cent of the world’s malaria deaths occur in Africa.
  • Male mosquitoes do not bite and, therefore, cannot transmit malaria.

Epidemics driven by pathogens, hosts and vectors invading new areas: Examples

  • The Black Death in Europe (14th century) was caused by rats with plague-infected fleas.
  • Asian tiger mosquito and yellow fever mosquito-spread diseases like dengue, yellow fever, and Zika in North America and Europe during the 1970s-1980s.

About Anopheles Mosquitoes

  • Aedes mosquitoes transmit viral diseases; Anopheles mosquitoes transmit malaria.
  • Only 30-40 out of 500 species spread malaria.
  • Common species that transmit malaria in Africa: Anopheles gambiae, An. arabiensis, and An. funestus.
    • An. gambiae caused a malaria epidemic in Brazil in the 1930s. After a highly coordinated and resource-intensive effort, it was eventually eliminated from Brazil in the 1940s.

Anopheles stephensi

  • It is a malaria vector native to South Asia. It had migrated to Africa from South Asia and the Arabian Peninsula.
  • Transmits Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax (Parasites).
  • Unlike other malaria-carrying mosquitoes in Africa that primarily breed in rural areas, Anopheles stephensi is well adapted to the urban environment.
  • It bites both during the day and at night and is resistant to chemical insecticides.


  • Strengthen entomological surveillance & share new information promptly.
  • Implement integrated vector control measures.
  • Invest in novel vector control methods for outdoor-biting mosquitoes.
  • Educate communities on proper water storage and eliminate breeding sites.
  • South America’s policies on reducing Aedes breeding areas could be adapted for Africa.
  • Combine clinical care, vector control, and community awareness.
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