Mosquito with glowing gonads to help battle malaria

Researchers at Imperial College London have created a genetically modified mosquito with glowing gonads by attaching a gene for fluorescence found in jellyfish to a gene expressed only in a male mosquito’s sexual organs.


One way to control disease-carrying mosquitoes is to flood an area with millions of sterile males. They mate with the females but produce no offspring, so the insect population drops. This relies on being able to separate males from females, as sterile females can still transmit malaria. The problem is that, unlike some insects, the larvae are very difficult to sex.

Making the male larvae fluoresce solves the problem, and in fact makes them so easy to spot that the process can be automated — a huge bonus because, as the researchers say, “If you need to release millions of mosquitoes you don’t want to sort them manually.”

* Photo from SciDev.Net.

This looks like a brilliant use of genetic modification. Even if it hadn’t been, the article’s headline was enough to merit a review 🙂