Making waves: Comparative analysis of gene drive spread characteristics in a continuous space model

Pan, Mingzuyu Champer, Jackson,  Molecular Ecology,  2023.

Abstract With their ability to rapidly increase in frequency, gene drives can be used to modify or suppress target populations after an initial release of drive individuals. Recent advances have revealed many possibilities for different types of drives, and several of these have been realized in experiments. These drives have advantages and disadvantages related to their ease of construction, confinement and capacity to be used for modification or suppression. Though characteristics of these drives have been explored in modelling studies, assessment in continuous space environments has been limited, often focusing on outcomes rather than fundamental properties. Here, we conduct a comparative analysis of many different gene drive types that have the capacity to form a wave of advance in continuous space using individual-based simulations in continuous space. We evaluate the drive wave speed as a function of drive performance and ecological parameters, which reveals substantial differences between drive performance in panmictic versus spatial environments. In particular, we find that suppression drive waves are uniquely vulnerable to fitness costs and undesired CRISPR cleavage activity in embryos by maternal deposition. Some drives, however, retain robust performance even with widely varying efficiency parameters. To gain a better understanding of drive waves, we compare their panmictic performance and find that the rate of wild-type allele removal is correlated with drive wave speed, though this is also affected by other factors. Overall, our results provide a useful resource for understanding the performance of drives in spatially continuous environments, which may be most representative of potential drive deployment in many relevant scenarios.

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