Arthropods of Medical Importance: Need for Genetic and Other Innovative Vector Control Technologies, with Emphasis on Eco-biosocial and Environmental Considerations.

B. K. Tyagi,  Genetically Modified and other Innovative Vector Control Technologies,  2021.

Among the world’s known vector groups, viz. arthropods, snails and rodents, the most important vectors originate from arthropods, the jointed legs. Arthropods are doubtlessly regarded as the most dominant creatures on the Earth due largely to their remarkable structural and behavioural diversity, besides humongous species preponderance. Of course, some of these arthropods are serious pests and/or vectors of human and animal diseases—deadly, debilitating and economy destructing. According to an estimate, arthropod species make approximately 80% of the global biological diversity. Born some 350–400 million years ago, they have of course achieved, to the utter envy of all other animal forms, a formidable genetic diversity and robustness so much so that they have virtually captivated pivotal human attention for centuries. They serve as a spectacular model of bioprospecting or laboratory experiments mostly because they are found in abundance, breed prodigiously and are exceptionally easier to culture or cultivate. For the aforesaid reasons, arthropods are also the easy target for genetic manipulations such as the transgenesis (using the release of insect carrying dominant lethal (RIDL) gene system or gene drive-based genome editing, e.g. CRISPR/Cas9, to suppress or replace the vector population) or paratransgenesis (e.g. deploying endosymbiont Wolbachia-induced cytoplasmic incompatibility for replacing natural vector population). In particular, the advent of CRISPR technology has excited the potential to engineer new game-changing technologies and innovative systems that can be used to control wild populations of mosquitoes. Two developments of particular interest are a self-limiting system termed precision-guided sterile insect technique (pgSIT) and a homing-based gene drive (HGD). The unique features of these systems can make them valuable tools to control vector mosquitoes in the future. All these biotechnological advancements in vector control are designed to fit well in the multi-methodical integrated vector management (IVM) strategy.

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