Gene Drive Supplement

CSIRO Research on Spatial Modeling for Population Replacement of Mosquito Vectors

April 27, 2022

Contemporary malaria control interventions including insecticide-treated bed nets, indoor residual spraying, and artemisinin-based combination therapy have reduced malaria cases in Africa. However, in 2019, malaria still claimed an estimated 389,000 African lives, mainly children under 5 years of age, according to the World Health Organization.

In an attempt to limit its burden and further reduce cases, researchers are developing new genetic and conventional vector control strategies that require detailed safety assessment to ensure responsible and successful deployments. Dominant malaria vectors in sub-Saharan Africa include Anopheles gambiae sensu stricto (s.s.) and A. coluzzii, two closely related subspecies within the species complex A. gambiae sensu lato (s.l.).

A study conducted at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) looked at the spread and persistence of population-modifying gene drive systems in these subspecies across sub-Saharan Africa through simulated introductions of genetically modified (GM) mosquitoes. The study, the first continental-scale model of population dynamics, found that gene drives can spread from even distant offshore islands to the African mainland because of wind-driven migration, with resistance taking over within a decade. The model accounts for regional to continental scale mechanisms and shows a range of realistic dynamics, including the effect of prevailing wind on the spread and spatio-temporally varying carrying capacities for subspecies.

The study also concludes that vector control is a key component in developing strategies to fight mosquito-borne and vector-borne diseases.

For more details, download and read the paper in bioRxiv.

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