CRISPR-based technology targets global crop pest

University of California - San Diego,  Phys Org,  2022.

Applying new CRISPR-based technology to a broad agricultural need, researchers at the University of California San Diego have set their aims on a worldwide pest known to decimate valuable food crops. Nikolay Kandul, Omar Akbari and their colleagues first demonstrated the precision-guided sterile insect technique, or pgSIT, in Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, in 2019. The technology, later adapted to mosquitoes, uses programmable CRISPR techniques to edit key genes that control sex determination and fertility. Under the new system, pgSIT-developed insect eggs are deployed into a targeted population and only sterile males hatch, resulting in a fertility dead end for that species. Kandul, Akbari and their colleagues have now adapted the technology for use in Drosophila suzukii, an invasive fruit fly (also known as the spotted-wing drosophila) responsible for millions of dollars in crop damage. The advancement is described in the journal GEN Biotechnology.

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