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Gut Bacteria Vectors

Researchers mix bacteria genetically engineered to express double-stranded RNA into insect food.

ruth williams
Ruth Williams

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To control reproduction in Rhodnius prolixus, which spreads Chagas disease, researchers introduce double-stranded RNA via bacteria mixed into the insect’s food. The blood meal contains commensal gut microbes that have been genetically engineered to express the RNA, which blocks the expression of a gene involved in producing offspring (1). Such RNA interference can spread to other individuals who eat the treated insect’s feces (2). Control animals produced roughly 70 percent more offspring than treated ones (3).

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