Before performing any field releases, NEA first conducted several years of extensive groundwork to assess the feasibility and safety of Wolbachia-Aedes suppression technology for use in Singapore, consult a wide range of stakeholders, and raise awareness of the technology.
Laboratory feasibility studies
NEA conducted rigorous lab studies to ensure that our male Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes were suitable for release, and that they would be effective at suppressing Aedes aegypti populations. Today, these checks are still performed on a regular basis to confirm that our Wolbachia-Aedes mosquitoes demonstrate the following properties:
- Cytoplasmic incompatibility (CI)
This phenomenon, induced by Wolbachia, causes sterile matings between Wolbachia-carrying males and non-Wolbachia-carrying females. Wolbachia-Aedes suppression technology exploits CI to suppress Aedes aegypti populations.
- Maternal transmission of Wolbachia
We perform regular checks to ensure that the Wolbachia-Aedes females in our lab colony continue to pass the Wolbachia bacterium down to their offspring, so that all our released male mosquitoes carry Wolbachia.
- Mating competitiveness
Wolbachia-Aedes males we release must be able to compete with urban males to mate with urban Aedes aegypti females. In the lab, we check to make that the mass-production process and the presence of Wolbachia does not affect their mating competitiveness.
NEA conducted comprehensive internal and independent risk assessment of Wolbachia-Aedes suppression technology, determining it to be safe, with no risk to human health and insignificant risk to ecology. This conclusion is consistent with findings from other groups around the world. Click here for detailed risk assessment reports.
NEA considers community engagement to be critical for the success of Project Wolbachia – Singapore. Well before field releases began, NEA conducted extensive community engagement to raise awareness of Wolbachia-Aedes suppression technology and to consult a wide range of stakeholders, including study site residents, the general public, the medical and scientific community, and government agencies. Community engagement remains a key part of Project Wolbachia – Singapore today.