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Crop Biotech Update

Use of CRISPR to Control Pest Populations

January 30, 2019

Researchers from the University of California-San Diego used the CRISPR gene editing tool to devise a method of altering key genes that control insect sex determination and fertility. This method enables a low-cost pest control solution that can be used in the future. A detailed description of the technique is published in Nature Communications.

The new technique called precision-guided sterile insect technique (pgSIT) is different from gene drive systems that continuously propagate genetic alterations from generation to generation. In the new technique, when pgSIT-derived eggs are introduced into targeted populations, only adult sterile males emerge, creating a dead end to the population. It has been tested to be effective in fruit flies, and the researchers are planning to apply it to mosquito species responsible for causing life-threatening diseases such as Dengue Fever, Zika, and Yellow Fever.

Read more from UC San Diego News Center.