Small-Cage Laboratory Trials of Genetically-Engineered Anopheline Mosquitoes

R. Carballar-Lejarazú, T. B. Pham, V. Bottino-Rojas, A. Adolfi and A. A. James,  J Vis Exp,  2021.

Control of mosquito-borne pathogens using genetically-modified vectors has been proposed as a promising tool to complement conventional control strategies. CRISPR-based homing gene drive systems have made transgenic technologies more accessible within the scientific community. Evaluation of transgenic mosquito performance and comparisons with wild-type counterparts in small laboratory cage trials provide valuable data for the design of subsequent field cage experiments and experimental assessments to refine the strategies for disease prevention. Here, we present three different protocols used in laboratory settings to evaluate transgene spread in anopheline mosquito vectors of malaria. These include inundative releases (no gene-drive system), and gene-drive overlapping and non-overlapping generation trials. The three trials vary in a number of parameters and can be adapted to desired experimental settings. Moreover, insectary studies in small cages are part of the progressive transition of engineered insects from the laboratory to open field releases. Therefore, the protocols described here represent invaluable tools to provide empirical values that will ultimately aid field implementation of new technologies for malaria elimination.

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