Jump to Main Content
Molecular tools to create new strains for mosquito sexing and vector control
- Häcker, Irina, Schetelig, Marc F.
- Parasites & vectors 2018 v.11 no.Supplement 2 pp. 645
- Aedes aegypti, females, gene editing, genes, genetically modified organisms, insect pests, males, mechanical methods, regulatory sequences, sex determination analysis, site-specific recombination, transposons, vector control
- Vector control programs based on population reduction by matings with mass-released sterile insects require the release of only male mosquitoes, as the release of females, even if sterile, would increase the number of biting and potentially disease-transmitting individuals. While small-scale releases demonstrated the applicability of sterile males releases to control the yellow fever mosquito Aedes aegypti, large-scale programs for mosquitoes are currently prevented by the lack of efficient sexing systems in any of the vector species.Different approaches of sexing are pursued, including classical genetic and mechanical methods of sex separation. Another strategy is the development of transgenic sexing systems. Such systems already exist in other insect pests. Genome modification tools could be used to apply similar strategies to mosquitoes. Three major tools to modify mosquito genomes are currently used: transposable elements, site-specific recombination systems, and genome editing via TALEN or CRISPR/Cas. All three can serve the purpose of developing sexing systems and vector control strains in mosquitoes in two ways: first, via their use in basic research. A better understanding of mosquito biology, including the sex-determining pathways and the involved genes can greatly facilitate the development of sexing strains. Moreover, basic research can help to identify other regulatory elements and genes potentially useful for the construction of transgenic sexing systems. Second, these genome modification tools can be used to apply the gained knowledge to build and test mosquito sexing strains for vector control.