Can genetically engineered pests protect crops, human health, and biodiversity?
North Carolina State University, Department of Entomology
In this presentation I will provide a summary of theoretical, experimental, and practical issues being addressed by researchers attempting to genetically suppress or alter insect pest populations. The targets for genetic pest management range from mosquitoes that transmit malaria to rats that annually consume enough rice to feed 180 million people.
The first transgenetic insect control system tested at the field level involved the mosquito, Aedes aegypti that transmits the dengue virus and the Zika virus. I will give a brief history about experiences with this system that requires continual release of large numbers of engineered mosquitoes. Work on the use of gene drive systems based on homing endonucleases, MEDEA elements and under dominance is progressing and would only require one release of a smaller number of mosquitoes. These systems could be used to suppress pest population or change their characteristics. I will discuss the status of these systems as well as their future potential for protecting crops, human health, and biodiversity.
Simple population genetic models have been developed to examine the properties of these and other insect genetic pest management tactics. These simple mathematical models are very useful, but I will demonstrate the need for more complex spatially explicit simulations models that include details of a pest’s population dynamics and population genetics.
23 June 2016 – 16.00
C0.110 Science Park