Engineered reproductively isolated species drive reversible population replacement

A. Buchman, I. Shriner, T. Yang, J. Liu, I. Antoshechkin, J. M. Marshall, M. W. Perry and O. S. Akbari,  Nature Communications,  12:3281. 2021.

Engineered reproductive species barriers are useful for impeding gene flow and driving desirable genes into wild populations in a reversible threshold-dependent manner. However, methods to generate synthetic barriers are lacking in advanced eukaryotes. Here, to overcome this challenge, we engineer SPECIES (Synthetic Postzygotic barriers Exploiting CRISPR-based Incompatibilities for Engineering Species), an engineered genetic incompatibility approach, to generate postzygotic reproductive barriers. Using this approach, we create multiple reproductively isolated SPECIES and demonstrate their reproductive isolation and threshold-dependent gene drive capabilities in D. melanogaster. Given the near-universal functionality of CRISPR tools, this approach should be portable to many species, including insect disease vectors in which confinable gene drives could be of great practical utility.


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