Vanquishing the vectors: Enlisting bacteria to fight mosquito-borne disease

In the latest episode of Up Close, I spoke with Professor Ary Hoffman, to look at how biological control can be used to prevent dengue fever, a disease that is prone to rapid and pandemic-scale outbreaks in tropical regions around the world. His approach makes use of Wolbachia, a bacterium that infects as many as 70% of the world’s insect species. It forms bizarre endosymbiotic relationships with the insect cells that it infects, altering mating systems and preventing co-infection with dengue and other viruses — a great example of the weird and wonderful that is possible in nature. Ary is an insect geneticist and ecologist from the departments of Genetics and Zoology at the University of Melbourne. You can download or listen online here.