Using underdominance to bi-stably transform local populations

Altrock, PMT, A.; Reeves, R. G.; Reed, F. A.,  Journal of Theoretical Biology,  267:62-75. 2010.

Underdominance refers to natural selection against individuals with a heterozygous genotype. Here, we analyze a single-locus underdominant system of two large local populations that exchange individuals at a certain migration rate. The system can be characterized by fixed points in the joint allele frequency space. We address the conditions under which underdominance can be applied to transform a local population that is receiving wildtype immigrants from another population. In a single population, underdominance has the benefit of complete removal of genetically modified alleles (reversibility) and coexistence is not stable. The two population system that exchanges migrants can result in internal stable states, where coexistence is maintained, but with additional release of wildtype individuals the system can be reversed to a fully wildtype state. This property is critically controlled by the migration rate. We approximate the critical minimum frequency required to result in a stable population transformation. We also concentrate on the destabilizing effects of fitness and migration rate asymmetry. Practical implications of our results are discussed in the context of utilizing underdominance to genetically modify wild populations. This is of importance especially for genetic pest management strategies, where locally stable and potentially reversible transformations of populations of disease vector species are of interest. (C) 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.