Image courtesy of Island Conservation

Invasive species pose an ever-growing risk to island communities and species, as they damage fragile ecosystems and bring new diseases. While efforts to control these species are ongoing, current methods have shown important limitations, from cost to feasibility and efficacy, leaving hundreds of thousands of islands under threat. All innovations to reduce the impact of invasive species on islands must be evaluated, including genetic modification, stated Karen Poiani, CEO of Island Conservation, in The Sidney Morning Herald.

Scientists from the University of California, San Diego, described a new version of gene drive that increases the precision of gene editing and allows the spread of desirable genetic characteristics. The main difference between the emerging allelic drive and current CRISPR technologies is that the first enables editing individual letters of the gene sequence, whilst the second only permit editing genetic information sequences.

Image courtesy of Target Malaria

A new study published in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases provides guidance for responsibly carrying out community and other stakeholder engagement activities to inform the development of area-wide vector control methods. According to the authors, “instrumental motivations and/or legal requirements should not be the sole basis for engagement. Engagement should be conceived of as a worthwhile pursuit in and of itself beyond the need to satisfy formal requirements”.

World Malaria DayWritten by Brian Tarimo, Ifakara Health Institute.

As another World Malaria Day starts, this year’s theme could not have been more meaningful to me. “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” calls on all of us to fully participate in whatever capacity we can in the fight against malaria.

When I was 9 years old my mother suffered from cerebral malaria. Many years later, my wife (then fiancé) was hospitalized, and I too have had it several times in my life. We all recovered thanks to the countless efforts by the medical teams who attended to us. But a question that still lingers in my mind is how many 9-year-old children, and countless other people, have lost a loved one; a parent, a partner, a sibling, a colleague or a friend to this disease?

According to a recent study published by the journal PLOS ONE, eradicating invasive mammals from islands could save over 9% of the world’s island vertebrates in danger of extinction. Eradicating invasive species, particularly cats and rats, is an effective conservation tool – “more than 1,200 invasive mammal eradications have been attempted on islands worldwide, with an average success rate of 85%” on native species recovery.

Invasive species are the second greatest cause of plant and animal species loss globally. Their impact on islands is particularly threatening, due to the highest concentration of both biodiversity and species extinctions in these regions. Although representing just over 5% of Earth’s territories, islands have been the habitat of approximately 75% of extinct species since 1500 (Tershy et al. 2015).