Google changed the face of the Internet beyond all recognition. Now, its sister company has plans to extend its reach into the real world as well.
In an attempt to cut the rate of disease transmission, Verily is getting ready to release 20 million bacteria-infected male mosquitoes in central California.
Verily is a sister company of the tech giant Google and will be carrying out the release. It’s part of the life sciences division of Alphabet, the parent company of Google. It’s looking into how to decrease the overall population of mosquitoes most likely to carry dangerous diseases within California.
They’ve focused their attention on the Aedes aegypti species, which is known to be a carrier for yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika.
At the moment, these diseases aren’t a threat to people living in California. However, it’s anticipated that as the climate shifts, mosquitoes will spread and carry more diseases with them as they do.
The release of 20 million mosquitoes is referred to as Debug Fresno, in reference to taking place in Fresno, California. Already 1 million of the mosquitoes have been set free and 1 million more will be released each week for the next 19 weeks.
See the video above for an overview
The mosquitoes in the trial haven’t been genetically modified. They have, however, been infected with a naturally occurring bacteria that makes some instects, such as the A. aegypti mosquito, sterile.
The trial is a form of biological control. Past tests have had mixed results, though it’s hoped that this test will infect up to 76 percent of mosquitoes in the region.
By releasing sterile males into the wild, it’s expected that there won’t be as many fertile males mating.