Quantifying Fitness Costs in Transgenic Aedes aegypti Mosquitoes

I. Sanchez-Vargas, A. E. Williams, L. E. Martin, I. Martin-Martin, S. Bennett, K. E. Olson and E. Calvo,  Journal of Visualized Experiments,  2023.

Transgenic mosquitoes often display fitness costs compared to their wild-type counterparts. In this regard, fitness cost studies involve collecting life parameter data from genetically modified mosquitoes and comparing them to mosquitoes lacking transgenes from the same genetic background. This manuscript illustrates how to measure common life history traits in the mosquito Aedes aegypti, including fecundity, wing size and shape, fertility, sex ratio, viability, development times, male contribution, and adult longevity. These parameters were chosen because they reflect reproductive success, are simple to measure, and are commonly reported in the literature. The representative results quantify fitness costs associated with either a gene knock-out or a single insertion of a gene drive element. Standardizing how life parameter data are collected is important because such data may be used to compare the health of transgenic mosquitoes generated across studies or to model the transgene fixation rate in a simulated wild-type mosquito population. Although this protocol is specific for transgenic Aedes aegypti, the protocol may also be used for other mosquito species or other experimental treatment conditions, with the caveat that certain biological contexts may require special adaptations.

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