For many years the absence of genetic transformation techniques for nondrosophilid insect species was seen as bottleneck for the full extension into these important pest species of strategies based on molecular genetics. The development of successful transposable-element-based transformation technologies enables the potential of these strategies to be tested at last. Insect geneticists have at their disposal gene vectors, universal genetic markers, promoters that can be utilized in heterologous insect species, and many target genes to test and manipulate. In addition, as outlined here, there is reason to be confident that generic techniques such as gene tagging, enhancer trapping, homologous recombination, FRT/FLP recombination, and RNAi-based gene silencing can now also be applied to insects other than D. melanogaster. Reports of sex-specific lethal genetic systems working in Drosophila have been published, and there is every expectation that similar systems will soon be established and tested in pest insects. All these technologies are precise—targeting only the genes that investigators seek to change—and the effects on a laboratory population can be predicted and are unambiguous. How successfully these technologies can be extended into pest insects, both in the laboratory and in the field, will be a matter of some interest in the years ahead.
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Drosophila melanogaster • Sterile Insect Technique
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