Sterility of Aedes albopictus by X-ray Irradiation as an Alternative to γ-ray Irradiation for the Sterile Insect Technique

L.-M. Wang, N. Li, C.-P. Ren, Z.-Y. Peng, H.-Z. Lu, D. Li, X.-Y. Wu, Z.-X. Zhou, J.-Y. Deng, Z.-H. Zheng, R.-Q. Wang, Y.-N. Du, D.-Q. Wang and S.-Q. Deng,  Pathogens,  12. 2023.

The mosquito Aedes albopictus can transmit various arboviral diseases, posing a severe threat to human health. As an environmentally friendly method, sterile insect technology (SIT) is considered an alternative to traditional methods such as chemical pesticides to control Ae. albopictus. In SIT, the sterility of male mosquitoes can be achieved by γ-ray or X-ray radiation. Compared with γ-rays, X-rays are easier to obtain, cheaper, and less harmful. However, there is a lack of comparative assessment of these two types of radiation for SIT under the same controlled conditions. Here, we compared the effects of X-ray and γ-ray radiation on the sterility of Ae. albopictus males under laboratory-controlled conditions. Neither type of radiation affected the number of eggs but significantly reduced the survival time and hatch rate. The same dose of γ-rays caused a higher sterility effect on males than X-rays but had a more significant impact on survival. However, X-rays could achieve the same sterility effect as γ-rays by increasing the radiation dose. For example, X-rays of 60 Gy induced 99% sterility, similar to γ-rays of 40 Gy. In the test of male mating competitiveness, the induced sterility and the male mating competitiveness index were also identical at the same release ratio (sterile males/fertile males). At a release ratio of 7:1, nearly 80% of eggs failed to hatch. Sterile males produced by X-ray and γ-ray radiation had similar male competitiveness in competition with field males. In conclusion, a higher dose of X-rays is required to achieve the same sterility effect, compared to γ-rays. When γ-rays are not readily available, high-dose X-rays can be used instead. This study provides data supporting the selection of more suitable radiation for the field release of sterile male mosquitoes.

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