Genetically engineered insects with sex-selection and genetic incompatibility enable population suppression

A. Upadhyay, N. R. Feltman, A. Sychla, A. Janzen, S. R. Das, M. Maselko and M. Smanski,  eLife,  11. 2022.

Engineered Genetic Incompatibility (EGI) is a method to create species-like barriers to sexual reproduction. It has applications in pest control that mimic Sterile Insect Technique when only EGI males are released. This can be facilitated by introducing conditional female-lethality to EGI strains to generate a sex-sorting incompatible male system (SSIMS). Here, we demonstrate a proof of concept by combining tetracycline-controlled female lethality constructs with a pyramus-targeting EGI line in the model insect Drosophila melanogaster. We show that both functions (incompatibility and sex-sorting) are robustly maintained in the SSIMS line and that this approach is effective for population suppression in cage experiments. Further we show that SSIMS males remain competitive with wild-type males for reproduction with wild-type females, including at the level of sperm competition.

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