Crop Biotech Update

CRISPR-based Gene Drive Could Provide Solution to Agricultural Pests

June 14, 2023

Experts from North Carolina State University developed a CRISPR-based gene drive system that could suppress populations of vinegar flies (Drosophila suzukii) that affects soft-skinned fruits in North America, Europe, and South America. Their findings are published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS).

The researchers came up with dual CRISPR gene drive systems which target a D. suzukii gene known as doublesex because of its role in sexual development of vinegar flies. This technique led to female sterility as characterized by females that don't lay eggs. According to the authors, the study is the first homing gene drive involving agricultural pests that could possibly lead to suppression of the population.

Using mathematical modeling, the researchers predicted that releasing just one modified fly for every four wild flies could suppress fly populations in eight to 10 generations.

For more details, read the news release from NC State University and the research article in PNAS.

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