Monday, 15 November 2004 - 3:20 PM

Genetic drive systems for spreading genes across populations

Peter Atkinson, peter.atkinson@ucr.edu1, P. Arensburger1, Y.-J Kim1, C. Aluvihare2, J. Orsetti2, and D.A. O’Brochta2. (1) University of California, Department of Entomology, 339 Entomology, Riverside, CA, (2) University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute, Center for Biosystems Research, College Park, MD

The ability to drive beneficial genes through both cage and field populations of mosquitoes is a major challenge in genetic vector control of these insects. Several methods by which this could be achieved are conceivable. Presently, the most promising is the use of transposable elements as genetic drive agents since these have been used as genetic transformation agents in mosquitoes and, as mobile DNA, they are theoretically capable of being able to move within genomes once present in them. We have previously shown that several of the transposable elements used to transform the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, are relatively immobile following integration, suggesting that they would not be ideal gene spreading agents in this species of mosquito. We therefore chose to screen the Anopheles gambiae genome for active transposable elements that might be developed into gene drive agents in this, and other, mosquito species. We identified the Herves transposable element and have shown that this is a functional element, capable of germ-line transformation of insects. We have investigated the distribution of Herves in natural populations of An. gambiae and results are consistent with Herves currently being transpositionally active in this species. The implications for using Herves as a drive agent in An. gambiae will be discussed.

Species 1: Diptera Culicidae Anopheles gambiae
Species 2: Diptera Culicidae Aedes aegypti
Keywords: malaria-fighting mosquito, genetics

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