Agricultural production: assessment of the potential use of Cas9-mediated gene drive systems for agricultural pest control

M. J. Scott, F. Gould, M. Lorenzen, N. Grubbs, O. Edwards and D. O’Brochta,  Journal of Responsible Innovation,  5:S98-S120. 2018.

To highlight how gene drives could be useful for control of agricultural insect pests, we selected species that are pests of animals (New World screwworm), plants (spotted wing Drosophila, diamondback moth, Bemisia tabaci whitefly), or stored grains (red flour beetle). With the exception of whitefly, routine methods for delivering DNA to the germline and selecting for genetically modified insects have been developed. The traditional approach in agriculture has been to suppress insect pest populations using insecticides and other farming practices. Similarly, we suggest the main use of gene drives in agriculture will be for population suppression through targeting essential genes. We provide examples of gene drives that target specific genes including female-essential genes. Further, we discuss issues related to containment in the laboratory and eventual field testing of strains harboring a Cas9-mediated gene drive system.