Insects cover our planet. Filed into 750,000 different species, at any given time there are one million trillion bugs buzzing around the globe.
About 14,000 of those species are blood-feeders, meaning they drink their meals by puncturing the skin of vertebrates, including humans. Besides being a nuisance, blood-feeding insects, such as certain strains of mosquitoes, are infected with parasitic organisms that are no threat to the bugs themselves, but if transferred to humans, become toxic, or worse, lethal.
A new collection of studies from PLoS charts alternative strategies for curbing mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue and malaria using genetically modified insects. The idea is to create mosquitoes that are less infectious and pass their altered genetics to the next generation by breeding with their natural counterparts.