Gene Drive in Species Complexes: Defining Target Organisms

J. B. Connolly, J. Romeis, Y. Devos, D. C. M. Glandorf, G. Turner and M. B. Coulibaly,  Trends in Biotechnology,  2022.

Engineered gene drives, which bias their own inheritance to increase in frequency in target populations, are being developed to control mosquito malaria vectors. Such mosquitoes can belong to complexes of both vector and non-vector species that can produce fertile interspecific hybrids, making vertical gene drive transfer (VGDT) to sibling species biologically plausible.


While VGDT to other vectors could positively impact human health protection goals, VGDT to non-vectors might challenge biodiversity ones. Therefore, environmental risk assessment of gene drive use in species complexes invites more nuanced considerations of ‘Target Organisms’ and ‘Non-Target Organisms’ than for transgenes not intended to increase in frequency in target populations. Incorporating the concept of ‘Target Species Complexes’ offers more flexibility when assessing potential impacts from VGDT.

More related to this: