Biosafety and the Environmental Uses of Micro-Organisms

Conference Proceedings

image of Biosafety and the Environmental Uses of Micro-Organisms

Micro-organisms play a fundamental role in the environment. Yet their role is the result of complex biogeochemical processes by consortia of micro-organisms and the function of individual species is not clear in many cases.

This publication provides an overview of the current situation and relevant developments in environmental microbiology, as well as its potential application, which covers: use of micro-organisms for agriculture, production purposes, bioremediation, and cleaning purpose; environmental applications of microbial symbionts of insects; and environmental risk/safety assessment of the deliberate release of engineered micro-organisms.




Use and release of mosquitoes for the control of dengue transmission

A world-first trial in Australia

Mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria or dengue fever cause a huge health burden to people living in tropical and subtropical countries. Current control efforts are not always effective and many of these diseases have increased in prevalence, geographic distribution and severity. The transinfection of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes with the endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia pipientis is a promising biocontrol approach for those diseases. Naturally occurring Wolbachia strains have been stably introduced from fruit flies into mosquitoes and shown that these strains can invade and sustain themselves in mosquito populations while blocking the replication of dengue viruses and other pathogens inside the insects. This chapter discusses the release of Wolbachia-infected A. aegypti mosquitoes in North Queensland, Australia. The regulatory process for this kind of release had no precedent in Australia and was authorised after a thorough community engagement process and an independent risk assessment. At the time of writing (April 2012), a second release trial was currently underway in Queensland and the technology will soon be deployed in dengue-endemic areas of Southeast Asia and in Brazil, once appropriate approvals are in place.


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