Gene drive designs for efficient and localisable population suppression using Y-linked editors

R. Geci, K. Willis and A. Burt,  PLOS Genetics,  18:e1010550. 2022.

Author summary Some pest populations can be successfully controlled by the inundative release of sterile males, but this approach is not practicable when the target population is large or the species difficult to rear. Computer modelling has previously demonstrated that releasing males with a genomic editor on their Y chromosome that kills or sterilises female descendants could be much more efficient, particularly if combined with a sex ratio distorter. Here we extend this work to show that Y-linked editors can also be used in even more efficient gene drive designs that would spread over successive generations beyond the region of release. Such spread could nonetheless be controlled by exploiting relatively small pre-existing differences in gene frequency between populations to restrict the spread and impact of the constructs, if desired. The proposed design does not require high rates of recombinational repair of DNA breaks or expression off the Y chromosome during meiosis, potentially expanding the range of species in which such low release rate control is possible. Y-linked editors may therefore form the basis of a highly flexible set of genetic strategies for population control.

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