Genes from a common bacterium can be harnessed to sterilize male insects, a tool that can potentially control populations of both disease-bearing mosquitoes and agricultural pests, researchers at Yale University and Vanderbilt University report in related studies published in Nature and Nature Microbiology journal.
The studies highlight the peculiar reproductive role of Wolbachia bacteria, which are found in the testes and ovaries of most insect species. Eggs fail to develop when fertilized by infected males, a process called cytoplasmic incompatibility. However, when females are also infected with Wolbachia, healthy embryos can develop.
The work was funded by NIFA and the National Institutes of Health.
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