Submitted to: Pest Management Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 27, 2008
Publication Date: May 1, 2009
Citation: Rector, B.G. 2009. A sterile-female technique proposed for control of Striga hermonthica and other intractable weeds: Advantages, shortcomings, and risk management. Pest Management Science. 65(5):596-602. Interpretive Summary: Striga hermonthica is a parasitic weed that regularly brings devastation to millions of subsistence farmers in its native Africa, often causing total crop loss and contributing to food insecurity, poverty, and instability on that continent. A weed control strategy is described here based on the introduction of genes conferring female sterility into the target weed genome, which is designed to spread through invasive and intractable target weed populations via pollen. Application of this strategy to S. hermonthica is discussed, including advantages and shortcomings of the strategy and assessment and management of attendant risks.
Technical Abstract: Weeds have posed intractable challenges to farmers since the dawn of agriculture. This article describes in detail a proposed control strategy based on the introduction of genes conferring female-sterility into the genomes of intractable target weeds. Spread of these genes through target populations via pollen would be facilitated by their incorporation within active transposable elements. Advantages (e.g. self-dissemination, self-proliferation, and target specificity) and shortcomings (e.g. high cost, limited range of possible targets) of this strategy are discussed in depth, as are assessment and management of its attendant biological and ecological risks, such as the risk of introduced genes spreading to non-target species.