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Google’s Parent Has a Plan to Eliminate Mosquitoes Worldwide

It’s unclear what would happen if the world’s disease-causing mosquitoes were done away with. The ecological role that mosquitoes play hasn’t been thoroughly studied.

KRISTEN V. BROWN: ‘Silicon Valley researchers are attacking mosquitoes in California’s Fresno County. It’s the first salvo in an unlikely war for Google parent Alphabet Inc.: eradicating mosquito-borne diseases around the world… “You hear that little beating sound?” says Kathleen Parkes, a spokesperson for Verily Life Sciences, a unit of Alphabet. She’s trailing the van in her car, the windows down. “Like a duh-duh-duh? That’s the release of the mosquitoes.”

Jacob Crawford, a Verily senior scientist riding with Parkes, begins describing a mosquito-control technique with dazzling potential. These particular vermin, he explains, were bred in the ultra-high-tech surroundings of Verily’s automated mosquito rearing system, 200 miles away in South San Francisco. They were infected with Wolbachia, a common bacterium. When those 80,000 lab-bred Wolbachia-infected, male mosquitoes mate with their counterpart females in the wild, the result is stealth annihilation: the offspring never hatch. Better make that 79,999. “One just hit the windshield,” says Crawford…

It’s unclear what would happen if the world’s disease-causing mosquitoes were done away with. The ecological role that mosquitoes play hasn’t been thoroughly studied, though some scientists suggest we might be just fine without them… “After we detected it, we did a massive and extensive effort to prevent the mosquito from establishing and eliminate it,” says Jodi Holeman, the scientific services director for Fresno County’s Consolidated Mosquito Abatement District. “We were not successful, in any way, shape, or form”.’ SOURCE…

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