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How quickly can genes respond to strong evolutionary pressures? The only example I can think of are the Peppered Moths that turned darker in order to cope with pollution in industrializing nations, and then went back to brighter colors once pollution levels went down.
I ask this question because I HATE mosquitoes. They are nasty creatures, through and through. They spread diseases, they ruin dates, they even feast on BABIES!
What if every human on an isolated island ( to scale the experiment down ) got a dose of a drug that stayed in their blood, a drug that would kill mosquitoes with 100% accuracy? So that, every time a mosquitoe bit a human being it would die, before it had time to lay its eggs. This would be incredibly strong selection, and it might lead to mosquitoes that do not bite humans. Here are some possible outcomes.
1. Mosquitoes stop biting humans.
a. Because their genes learned not to.
b. Because they can sense the chemical (not likely, its in the blood).
c. Because they are all dead (not likely, as most mosquitoes feed on all vertebrates, I believe [even though it might take a while, this could be the beginning of human-friendly mosquitoes]).
2. Mosquitoes keep biting humans.
a. Selection is too slow, and the mosquitoes keep biting and dieing, while the larger population of mosquitoes feeds on other vertebrates (and the experiment is canceled).
b. The mosquitoes' genes have overcome the poison. A different poison is administered.
c. The mosquitoes have evolved some other way to get around this problem. (when the poison is switched they keep biting humans.)
If this method was used for hundreds of years, I cannot see how mosquitoes could keep biting humans. Of course, there are all the limitations that apply to all drugs and economics and ethics that would have to be overcome. I bet in the US there would be tons of liberal douchebags who would oppose to the killing of mosquitoes as animal cruelty.
However, if there are already subspecies of mosquitoes that do not feed on humans, then this process could be lightning fast. These mosquitoes would be so much more successful at passing on their genes that within several hundred generations they would be the only mosquitoes left.
But if not, it would probably take a really long time. What do you think? Comments? I'm no geneticist, but I think I understand natural selection well enough for this to make sense.
here is a useful link about malaria and mosquitoes: http://www.gransi.com/siward/Malaria.html#2
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