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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Insect transgenesis and the sterile insect technique

item Schetelig, Marc Florian
item Wimmer, Ernst

Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/2/2010
Publication Date: 2/1/2011
Citation: Schetelig, M.A., Wimmer, E.A. 2011. Insect transgenesis and the sterile insect technique. Book Chapter. II(2):169-194.

Interpretive Summary: The ability to create transgenic strains of economically and medically important insect species has the potential to greatly enhance our ability to improve existing biological control methods and develop more novel means of control, which is a major goal at the Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Gainesville, FL. The technologies explained and discussed here are important to establish and evaluate transgenic systems for environmental-friendly biological control. In particular, methods for gene identification, modification, evaluation and their subsequent use within transgenic systems are discussed. Recent development in generating and testing transgenic insects for the environmental-friendly Sterile Insect Technique are outlined. Transgenic technology is able to improve several aspects of biological control on its own and combined with other control methods in an integrated pest management (IPM). The discussion on insect transgenesis and its applications shows the prospects of transgenic insects from understanding the biology of the insects to the generation of effective and safe transgenic technology. Ecological and ethical considerations allow for a comprehensive view on insect transgenesis.

Technical Abstract: The establishment of broadly applicable insect transgenesis systems will enable the analyses of gene function in diverse insect species. This will greatly increase our understanding of diverse aspects of biology so far not functionally addressable. Moreover, insect transgenesis will provide novel strategies for insect pest management and the means to impair transmission of pathogens by human disease vectors. Especially the Sterile Insect Technique (SIT) might be improved by the use of transgenic approaches. SIT represents an effective and ecologically safe method for area-wide pest control that reduces the pest population by mass release of sterilized organisms, leading to infertile matings and in consequence to a decline of the pest population. Although SIT is already successfully applied for some species, each of its steps (mass-rearing, sex-separation for male-only releases, sterilization, and marking for monitoring) can be improved biotechnologically to optimize the efficiency and to reduce the costs of ongoing programs or to transfer this effective technique to a wider range of species. However, this powerful transgenic technology must be applied with great care to avoid harm to our environment.

Last Modified: 06/25/2017
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