Gene Drive Supplement

Gene Drives Involving Competitors and Predators Facilitate Population Suppression

May 25, 2022

Researchers at Peking University in China reported in BioRxiv the potentially promising prospects of less powerful gene drives in achieving successful elimination of target pest populations.

Laboratory simulations have shown successful CRISPR suppression drives based on homing mechanisms, specifically for malaria mosquitoes. However, several models project that such drives might not work in actual populations due to the ability of wild-type individuals to escape the drive and reproduce in empty areas where competition is reduced. This led the researchers to extend their continuous space gene drive framework that includes two competing species or predator-prey species pairs.

Results showed in both discrete-generation and mosquito-specific models that the presence of a competing species or predator can greatly facilitate drive-based suppression, even for drives with low efficiency. However, the inclusion of competing species significantly increases the changes of losing the drive before suppression is attained, especially for models with seasonal population fluctuations. The researchers also found that suppression was challenging if targeting a predator with strong predator-prey interactions.

Read more results in BioRxiv.

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