Is there more than one kind of gene drive?

Category: Gene Drive Mechanisms

Yes. Gene drive approaches can be classified not only by the molecular mechanism used to engineer them, but also by their ability to persist and spread in the environment. The different types of gene drive technologies may have different goals. The major gene drive approaches that have been described to date (2022) are the following:

  • Self-sustaining refers to a gene drive technology approach in which the heritable modification is intended to become stably established within interbreeding populations of the target species.
  • Self-limiting is a gene drive technology approach in which the modification is expected to disappear from the population after some period of time in the absence of repeated releases of the gene drive-modified organism.
  • Localizing is a gene drive technology approach that would limit the spatial spread of the modification within the target population.

Different types of gene drive technologies also have different goals. Strategies that aim to reduce the population size of the target species are called population suppression (or reduction) drives. Strategies that aim to change some functional or behavioral characteristic of the target species, such as the capacity to transmit a pathogen, are called population replacement (or modification, alteration, or conversion) drives.

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