On the role of lethal mutants in the control of populations

R. C. Von Borstel and A. A. Buzzati-Traverso,  Radioisotopes and Radiation in Entomology: Proceedings of a Symposium, Bombay, 5-9 December, 1960,  1962:273-278. 1962.

On the role of lethal. mutants in the control of populations. Population control by release of irradiated males requires that the sperm must be damaged by radiation. The type of damage induced by radiation imposes a restriction on which species may be controlled because if the sperm are functionally damaged by radiation, then for effective control, the females must be monogamous. If dominant lethality is induced in sperm then either polygamy or monogamy may prevail. It is generally accepted that dominant lethal events are induced in sperm at doses much lower than those required to hamper sperm function or cause sperm inactivation. With Drosophila it is possible to test directly the effect of releasing irradiated males into an artificial population where polygamy is the rule. Preliminary experiments have been performed under conditions of unlimited production of offspring. It appears that radiation induces dominant lethality in sperm, and the sperm that bear dominant lethals are able to compete successfully with normal sperm. A series of tests are currently under way to ascertain the degree of induced dominant lethality and sperm inactivation at different X-ray dosages. A series of experiments are outlined in a general discussion of the possible use of dominant and recessive lethals for bringing about collapse of artificial and natural populations.