Oxitec announces new sex-specific pest control technology

February 18, 2007

A publication by Guoliang Fu et al in Nature Biotechnology describes a new approach to creating male only populations of insects for release in SIT programmes. Fu et al exploit sex-specific alternative splicing of the Medfly transformer transcript to create conditional female lethality. Male insects thus produced cannot father females without access to the artificial diet supplement. Without females, a pest population declines! SIT programmes generally work best when only male insects are released. Sterile females distract the sterile males from looking for wild female mates, and in some cases cause direct damage. For example, sterile female fruit flies damage fruit by trying to lay eggs, while female mosquitoes bite and spread disease (males do not). This neat method overcomes the limitations of other approaches to generate male only populations of insects for release. The publication reference is Fu, G., Condon, K.C., Epton, M.J., Gong, P., Jin, L., Condon, G.C., Morrison, N.I., Dafa’alla, T. H. and Alphey, L. (2007) Female-specific insect lethality engineered using alternative splicing. Nature Biotech., 25:3