Editorial: Genetic control of insect pest species—achievements, challenges, and perspectives

I. Häcker, D. Bartsch, A. Choo and F. Marec,  Frontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology,  11. 2023.

Genetic control is a type ofbiological control and a promising approach to regulate insect pest populations in a species-specific manner. It is based on targeting the reproductive capacity of the target pest species to reduce population size to non-critical levels. The best known and also very successful genetic control strategy is the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT), which entails the continuous mass-release ofirradiation-sterilized males ofa given species to produce infertile matings in the field, leading to the decline in the target population over time. To date, SIT is only available for a few species, as its transfer to new target species is challenging and time consuming. Key aspects of this classical SIT and challenges in applying it to new pest species include mass rearing of target species, mass removal of female insects prior to irradiation and release, the sterilization procedure, and the biological quality control of the sterile insects produced. Besides this classical SIT strategy, current research efforts are also focused on the development of genetic control approaches based on transgenic, symbiont-mediated, or gene-drive strategies. Modern genetic technologies offer new solutions for the improvement of existing genetic control strategies and insect strains, for faster and easier transfer of existing strategies to new target species, and also for the development of new genetic control approaches. Publications within this Research Topic address pressing questions and challenges related to the genetic control of insect pests.

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