Genetically Encoded CRISPR components Yield Efficient Gene Editing in the Invasive Pest, Drosophila suzukii

N. P. Kandul, E. J. Belikoff, J. Liu, A. Buchman, F. Li, A. Yamamoto, T. Yang, I. Shriner, M. J. Scott and O. Akbari,  bioRxiv,  2021.03.15.435483. 2021.

Originally from Asia, Drosophila suzukii is presently a global pest of economically important soft-skinned fruits. Also commonly known as spotted wing Drosophila (SWD), it is largely controlled through repeated applications of broad-spectrum insecticides. There is a pressing need for a better understanding of SWD biology and for developing alternative environmentally-friendly methods of control. The RNA-guided Cas9 nuclease has revolutionized functional genomics and is an integral component of several recently developed genetic strategies for population control of insects. Here we have developed transgenic strains that encode three different terminators and four different promoters to express Cas9 in both the soma and/or germline of SWD. The Cas9 lines were evaluated through genetic crossing to transgenic lines that encode single guide RNAs targeting the conserved X-linked yellow body and white eye genes. We find that several Cas9/gRNA lines display very high editing capacity. Going forward, these tools will be instrumental for evaluating gene function in SWD and may provide tools useful for the development of new genetic strategies for control of this invasive species.

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