Scientists Refining Methods For Genetically Altering Insects

FROM LAB TO FIELD: Florida's Marjorie Hoy holds a dish containing several hundred Western predatory mites, which she transformed by injecting a plasmid containing a gene directly into females' ovaries. Creating transgenic insects is seen by some scientists as a new way to manage and possibly eradicate enduring problems such as malaria and agricultural damage from the Mediterranean fruit fly. Researchers appear to be making significant strides in refining the technique. Meanwhile, critics are r

Harvey Black
Oct 12, 1997


FROM LAB TO FIELD: Florida's Marjorie Hoy holds a dish containing several hundred Western predatory mites, which she transformed by injecting a plasmid containing a gene directly into females' ovaries.
Creating transgenic insects is seen by some scientists as a new way to manage and possibly eradicate enduring problems such as malaria and agricultural damage from the Mediterranean fruit fly. Researchers appear to be making significant strides in refining the technique. Meanwhile, critics are raising concerns about genetically modifying insects and the implications of adding new genes to these organisms in the wild.

One as-yet-unpublished study used genetic technology to alter mosquitoes. A team of researchers from the University of Notre Dame; the University of California, Irvine; and the University of Maryland has successfully transformed the Aedes aegypti mosquito with a transposable element, a small unit of DNA that can move from one part of a genome to another, called...

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