Gene Drive Supplement

CRISPR-based Gene Drive Tested in the Diamondback Moth

March 30, 2022

Researchers tested the first split gene drive system in a lepidopteran, the Diamondback Moth (Plutella xylostella or DBM). Their findings are published in The CRISPR Journal.

Gene drives have been designed to supress or modify populations of pests such as dipteran insects, yeasts, and mice. However, the technique is yet to be confirmed effective for lepidopterans, especially for DBM which is a notorious pest of cruciferous crops and had developed strong resistance to different insecticides. Thus, the research team used endogenous regulatory elements to drive Cas9 and single guide RNA expression in DBM.

The researchers reported high levels of cell changes found in Cas9/sgRNA transheterozygotes, but no significant homing in the following generation. Though heritable Cas9-mediated germline cleavage and maternal and paternal Cas9 deposition were detected, the rates were significantly lower than for somatic cleavage events, which implies robust somatic but limited germline activity of Cas9/sgRNA under the control of selected regulatory elements.

The results of the study contribute insights into the future construction of gene drives to potentially control Diamondback Moth and other lepidopteran pests.

Read more details in The CRISPR Journal.

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