Gene Drives

The CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing technology provides a way to generate synthetic gene drives that could be used to control insect populations.

In essence patterns of Mendelian inheritance can be distorted so a desired genetic element can be spread through free-living, free-breeding populations that reproduce sexually.

This technique could be used to spread ancestral 'insecticide susceptibility' alleles through populations and potentially allow lower doses of insecticides to be used.

Gene drive resistance (GDR) is predicted to occur eventually but we do not have the data to estimate how easily this will arise.

Gene drives could also be used to eradicated incursions from invasive species. For instance if  'gene drive' bearing male insects are designed so that they only have sons then females will become rarer until the species is eliminated completely.

Here are links to articles pitched at the general public that I have contributed to: