US reviews plan to infect mosquitoes with bacteria to stop disease

 US reviews plan to infect mosquitoes with bacteria to stop disease

Biotech firm seeks government approval to market mosquitoes as a pesticide to prevent spread of Zika and dengue viruses.

Jodi Holeman – Male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes infected with Wolbachia bacteria are unable to produce offspring.

The United States could soon become the first country to approve the commercial use of a common bacterium to fight the spread of mosquitoes that can transmit viruses such as Zika, dengue and Chikungunya.

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is reviewing an application from the biotechnology start-up MosquitoMate to use the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). The company plans to market Wolbachia as a pesticide — one that kills only mosquitoes, and leaves other insects untouched. The EPA’s decision on the matter will come after a public-comment period that ends on 31 May. Read more.