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The potential for a CRISPR gene drive to eradicate or suppress globally invasive social wasps

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posted on 02.11.2021, 20:17 by Philip LesterPhilip Lester, Mariana BulgarellaMariana Bulgarella, James BatyJames Baty, PK Dearden, J Guhlin, JM Kean
CRISPR gene drives have potential for widespread and cost-efficient pest control, but are highly controversial. We examined a potential gene drive targeting spermatogenesis to control the invasive common wasp (Vespula vulgaris) in New Zealand. Vespula wasps are haplodiploid. Their life cycle makes gene drive production challenging, as nests are initiated by single fertilized queens in spring followed by several cohorts of sterile female workers and the production of reproductives in autumn. We show that different spermatogenesis genes have different levels of variation between introduced and native ranges, enabling a potential ‘precision drive’ that could target the reduced genetic diversity and genotypes within the invaded range. In vitro testing showed guide-RNA target specificity and efficacy that was dependent on the gene target within Vespula, but no cross-reactivity in other Hymenoptera. Mathematical modelling incorporating the genetic and life history traits of Vespula wasps identified characteristics for a male sterility drive to achieve population control. There was a trade-off between drive infiltration and impact: a drive causing complete male sterility would not spread, while partial sterility could be effective in limiting population size if the homing rate is high. Our results indicate that gene drives may offer viable suppression for wasps and other haplodiploid pests.

History

Preferred citation

Lester, P. J., Bulgarella, M., Baty, J. W., Dearden, P. K., Guhlin, J. & Kean, J. M. (2020). The potential for a CRISPR gene drive to eradicate or suppress globally invasive social wasps. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 12398-. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69259-6

Journal title

Scientific Reports

Volume

10

Issue

1

Publication date

01/12/2020

Pagination

12398

Publisher

Springer Science and Business Media LLC

Publication status

Published

Online publication date

24/07/2020

ISSN

2045-2322

eISSN

2045-2322

Article number

12398

Language

en