What do we mean by “Target Organism” in Target Malaria’s gene drive research?

J. B. Connolly,  Target Malaria,  2022.

In the wild and in laboratory settings, sibling mosquito species can successfully mate to produce viable offspring, regardless of whether they are vectors or not. Importantly, females, but not males, of these offspring can be fertile. Nonetheless, the likelihood of finding such hybrid mosquitoes in field samples varies greatly between different combinations of species. According to some field studies, typically, only about 0.1% of mosquito collected in the wild could be An. gambiae s.s./An. coluzzii hybrids. In addition, some species that do not overlap geographically, and therefore would not come into direct contact, cannot produce hybrids in the field. This includes An. melas, which is found along the coast of West Africa, and An. bwambae, which is restricted to hot springs in the Toro District of Uganda. This means that the gene drive could eventually transfer to all sibling species of the complex, both by direct hybridisation between geographically-overlapping species and, indirectly, by transferring from one species to another overlapping ones like stepping-stones until the gene drive was transferred to all species of the complex, including to the likes of An. melas and An. bwambae

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