Millions of California mosquitoes are in trouble as a warfare is being waged against them by Alphabet, Google’s parent company. A branch of the company, the life science branch to be precise, known as Verily, initiated the move to reduce the impact of disease-carrying mosquitoes on humans.
Verily has therefore teamed up with biotech company MosquitoMate and a California mosquito control organization for the Debug Project. The cordial name of this biological war is Debug Fresno, it is staged in two neigbourhoods in Fresno California over a 20 weeks period. This project is currently the largest US field study.
The study involves a robot developed by Verily, raising about a million male mosquitoes each week. These mosquitoes will then be evenly distributed weekly, after being engineered to carry the bacteria Wolbachia, this bacteria is capable of hindering reproductive process. And since it’s only the females that bites humans, infection would be reduced as there’ll no hatching of the eggs laid unless the female mosquito also happen to carry the same bacteria.
This study targets a particular specie of mosquitoes that carry diseases like Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya, known as Aedes aegypti. The mosquitoes complete their life cycle in a week, so if the areas inhabited are flooded with Verily’s infertile male bugs, it’ll be difficult for a female mosquito to find a non infected fertile male to mate with. This will result to having fewer offsprings and eventual elimination of the specie.
The specie will not be missed since the ecosystem does not rely on them for much, they barely serve as a food source for other animals and they don’t aid pollination. The bacteria put in them have no effect on humans according to the assessment tests carried out.
If victory is attained in this war, the same method could be used in other communities in which such diseases are endemic.
Once again science has solved another problem.
Alphabet Inc. is an American multinational conglomerate created in a corporate restructuring on October 2, 2015. It is the parent company of Google and several former Google subsidiaries. The two founders of Google assumed executive roles in the new company, with Larry Page serving as CEO and Sergey Brin as President. The company is based in Mountain View, California. It has over 72,053 employees as of 2017.
Verily (formerly Google Life Science) is Alphabet Inc.‘s research organization devoted to the study of life sciences. The organization was formerly a division of Google X, until 10 August 2015 when Sergey Brin announced that the organization would become an independent subsidiary of Alphabet Inc.This restructuring process was completed on October 2, 2015. On December 7, 2015, Google Life Sciences was renamed Verily.