Skip to main content
ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #198345

Title: Development of an embryonic lethality system for transgenic sit in the fruit pest, ceratitis capitata

item Handler, Alfred - Al

Submitted to: IAEA-FAO Area Wide Insect Management Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/29/2006
Publication Date: 7/1/2007
Citation: Schetelig, M.F., Horn, C., Handler, A.M., Wimmer, E.A. 2007. Development of an embryonic lethality system for transgenic sit in the fruit pest, ceratitis capitata. IAEA-FAO Area Wide Insect Management Symposium Proceedings. 85-93.

Interpretive Summary: The creation of transgenic strains of tephritid fruit fly pest insects for the development of more effective biological control programs is major goal of our laboratory at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, Florida. One of these approaches includes the improvement of conventional sterile insect technique (SIT) using a transgenic conditional lethality system in the embryos of the Mediterranean fruit fly. This system effectively sterilizes the host strain since their offspring fail to survive. This is being directly tested in the Medfly, and embryonic genes from the Medfly have been isolated to modify the system for improved efficacy in Medfly, and for possible use in other tephritid pest species.

Technical Abstract: Ceratitis capitata, known as one of the world's most destructive insect pest, costs farmers billions of dollars annually. Improved biological strategies are needed to increase the efficacy of area-wide pest management. Transgenic methodology should enhance and widen the applicability of the sterile insect technique (SIT). A transgenic SIT (tSIT) approach to sterilize insects with an embryonic lethal transgene combination instead of conventional irradiation was successfully established in Drosophila melanogaster. We are currently transferring this system to the fruit pest Ceratitis capitata, in order to test its feasibility in this species and compare its effectiveness to conventional SIT. Therefore we are following two strategies: i) direct transfer of the constructs used in Drosophila with assessment of their functionality in Ceratitis. ii) isolation of genes active in early embryonic development of Ceratitis for use in an embryonic lethality system with endogenous components. If proven functional and effective in Ceratitis, such a system should be transferable to other insect pests in which conventional SIT is suboptimal or not applicable so far.