Adversarial interspecies relationships facilitate population suppression by gene drive in spatially explicit models

Y. Liu, W. Teo, H. Yang and J. Champer,  Ecology Letters,  2023.

Suppression gene drives bias their inheritance to spread through a population, potentially eliminating it when they reach high frequency. CRISPR homing suppression drives have already seen success in the laboratory, but several models predict that success may be elusive in population with realistic spatial structure due to extinction-recolonization cycles. Here, we extend our continuous space framework to include two competing species or predator?prey pairs. We find that in both general and mosquito-specific models, competing species or predators can facilitate drive-based suppression, albeit at the cost of an increased rate of drive loss outcomes. These results are robust in mosquito models with seasonal fluctuations. Our study illustrates the difficulty of predicting outcomes in complex ecosystems. However, our results are promising for the prospects of less powerful suppression gene drives to successfully eliminate target mosquito and other pest populations.

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