Genetic Approaches For Management Of Insect Pest Populations

The sterile insect technique (SIT) relies on release of large numbers of sterile male insects that mate with wild females, thereby reducing reproductive potential or, if sufficient numbers of males are released over time, resulting in eradication of the pest population in a given area. Successful SIT programs have been conducted against the screwworm, Cochliomyia hominivorax, the Mediterranean fruit fly, Ceratitis capitata, and the tsetse fly, Glossina spp. One of the problems associated with SIT is that laboratory rearing and sterilization of males results in reduced fitness of the insects.

Alternative genetic control systems include use of natural sterility such as cytoplasmic incompatibility induced by infection with the bacterium Wolbachia, and conditional lethal traits. For a conditional lethal release, insects are engineered to carry a lethal trait that is active only under certain conditions, such as certain temperatures, or at diapause. Since the trait is not lethal immediately, it can spread in a population. Genetic techniques have also been developed that allow induction of female-specific lethality. These autocidal control strategies have been demonstrated only in the model organism Drosophila thus far. The ability

TABLE I Genetic Transformation of Nondrosophilid Insects


Species transformed

Common name

Pest status


Anopheles stephensi A. albimanus Aedes aegypti Culex quinquefasciatus Musca domestica Stomoxys calcitrans

Yellow fever mosquito Southern house mosquito House fly Stable fly

Disease vectors

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