Mosquitos kill 700,000 people a year, more than any other animal. This video explores the use of gene-editing technology to eliminate the most dangerous species of mosquitoes. The goal would be to stop the spread of deadly diseases, but there are concerns about the impact this could have on the overall ecosystem.
From the video:
In a 2018 study, researchers injected a gene drive into mosquito eggs that made females sterile when they had two copies of the modified gene. Such a modification would usually disappear quickly. But it spread. The modified mosquitoes passed the gene drive onto some of their offspring. The gene drive, which they inherited on one chromosome, copied itself onto the other chromosome in the offspring's sperm and egg cells, ensuring it was passed on to their offspring, regardless of which chromosome they received. This process repeated as all males that carried the gene and all females that had one copy of it, continued reproducing, spreading the gene drive. As they did, they produced more females that had two copies of the gene— and would therefore sterile. With a near 100% inheritance rate, the gene spread through the population and within 12 generations almost all females were sterile, and the populations crashed.