Gene drive is a process that promotes or favors the inheritance of certain genes from generation to generation. While the specific term ‘gene drive’ only came into use at the beginning of the 21st century, the genetic phenomenon referred to as ‘drive’ was first recognized early in the 20th century as a natural occurrence in many organisms. Scientists first expressed the possibility of using drive systems to control pest insects in the 1950s.
Many plants and animals have two different copies of each of their genes, having inherited one from their male parent and one from their female parent. For a gene that does not exhibit gene drive, each of those copies is equally likely to be passed to the next generation. This is often referred to as Mendelian inheritance. For a gene that displays gene drive, one of those copies would be preferentially passed to the next generation. This pattern of preferential inheritance means that in a relatively short time genes displaying drive can become highly prevalent in a population.
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