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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Gainesville, Florida » Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology » Insect Behavior and Biocontrol Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #321802

Title: Tetracycline-suppressible female lethality and sterility in the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens

item SCHETELIG, MARC - Justus-Liebig University
item TARGOVSKA, ASYA - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
item MEZA, J. - Ministry Of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries And Food
item BOURTZIS, KOSTAS - International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
item Handler, Alfred - Al

Submitted to: Insect Molecular Biology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/10/2016
Publication Date: 5/2/2016
Citation: Schetelig, M.F., Targovska, A., Meza, J.S., Bourtzis, K., Handler, A.M. 2016. Tetracycline-suppressible female lethality and sterility in the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens. Insect Molecular Biology. 25(4):500-508.

Interpretive Summary: Development of effective and safe sexing strains for biologically-based control for insect pest species has been shown to be important for the most efficient use of the Sterile Insect Technique. But thus far, effective sexing systems acting early in development have only been developed for the Mediterranean and Caribbean fruit flies. To extend this technology to another critical fruit fly pest, scientists at the USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology, Gainesville, Florida, along with collaborators, have created new conditional sterility and sexing strains for the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens. An antibiotic added to the food can switch off the system during the rearing of the flies, allowing them to survive and reproduce, but under restrictive diet conditions without the antibiotic, all females die during a very early stage in development, which is be important for large-scale production of a male-only population. Female death early in development is important to prevent the costly consumption embryonic of larval diet, which can be as much as several tons a day, though parental females must be fed antibiotic for five days to suppress sterility. This sterility effect, however, provides a safeguard against any transgenic females inadvertently released, from reproducing in the field.

Technical Abstract: The sterile insect technique (SIT) involves the mass release of sterile males to suppress insect pest populations, which has been improved for larval pests by development of strains for female-specific tetracycline-suppressible (Tet-off) embryonic lethal systems for male-only populations. Here we describe the extension of this approach to the Mexican fruit fly, Anastrepha ludens, having a Tet-off driver construct with the Tet-transactivator (tTA) under embryo-specific A. suspensa serendipity a promoter regulation. In the absence of tetracycline, tTA acts upon a Tet-response element linked to the pro-apoptotic cell death gene lethal effector, hid, from A. ludens (AlhidAla2) that contains a sex-specific intron splicing cassette, resulting in female-specific expression of the lethal effector. Parental adults double-homozygous for the driver/effector vectors were expected to yield male-only progeny when reared on Tet-free diet, but a complete lack of oviposited eggs for three strains resulted. Ovary dissection revealed non-vitellogenic oocytes in all strains that was reversible by feeding females tetracycline for 5 days after eclosion, resulting in male-only adults in one strain. Presumably the sry-a promoter exhibits pre-zygotic maternal expression as well as zygotic embryonic expression in A. ludens, resulting in a Tet-off sterility effect in addition to female-specific embryonic lethality in this species.