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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

20 Million Mosquitoes to Hit Fresno; That's a Good Thing, Really

• https://www.bloomberg.com, By Caroline Chen

That's supposed to be a good thing. 

The bug campaign, which starts Friday, is part of a plan by Alphabet Inc.'s Verily Life Sciences unit. Reared by machines, the male mosquitoes are infected with a bacteria that, while harmless to humans, creates nonhatching dead eggs when they mate with wild females -- hopefully cutting the mosquito population and the transmission of the diseases they carry.

The swarm's target is Aedes aegypti, a mosquito breed that carries viruses like zika, dengue, and chikungunya. They're an invasive species in California's Central Valley, first arriving in Fresno in 2013.

After becoming a standalone Alphabet division in 2015, Verily has grown rapidly, taking on numerous health technology projects, partnering with the drug industry and raising significant funds including $800 million from Singapore investment firm Temasek Holdings Ltd. While the mosquito project, called Debug, won't generate revenue in the near-term, it's a chance for Verily to show off its technical prowess in the health-care field.

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