Assessing the hybridization potential between a hypothetical gene drive-modified Drosophila suzukii strain and non-target Drosophila species

J. Romeis, S. Wolf, J. Collatz, J. Enkerli and F. Widmer,  IOBC-WPRS Bulletin,  163:108. 2023.

Genetically engineered gene drives (GD) are a potentially powerful tool to control pest insects by population suppression or even elimination. Before living GD modified insects can be released into the environment, they must pass an environmental risk assessment (ERA). A key question to be addressed is the potential acquisition of functional GD elements by nontarget species as this may lead to the loss of those species and to a disruption of the ecosystem services they provide. The main route for gene flow is through hybridization between the GD insect strain and closely related species that co-occur in the area of release. Using the invasive Drosophila suzukii as a case study, we demonstrate how the potential for hybridization can be assessed.

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