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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Frederick, Maryland » Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #408118

Research Project: Discovery and Development of Microbial-Based Biological Control Agents for Use Against Invasive Weeds in the United States

Location: Foreign Disease-Weed Science Research

Title: Benefits and risks of gene drives for invasive plant management - the case for common tansy

item CROGHAN, LORI - University Of Minnesota
item SMITH, ALAN - University Of Minnesota
item Tancos, Matthew
item ANDERSON, NEIL - University Of Minnesota
item BECKER, ROGER - University Of Minnesota

Submitted to: Frontiers in Agronomy
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/9/2023
Publication Date: 10/20/2023
Citation: Croghan, L., Smith, A.G., Tancos, M.A., Anderson, N.O., Becker, R.L. 2023. Benefits and risks of gene drives for invasive plant management - the case for common tansy. Frontiers in Agronomy.

Interpretive Summary: Managing invasive weeds is challenging since they are widespread and grow in diverse plant communities. New technologies, like gene drives, are being explored to better mange invasive weed populations. Gene drives allow for a species-specific method of management by using biotechnology to inhibit seed production in target weeds. Demonstrating the benefits and risks of gene drives is necessary to anticipate and prevent any unintended consequences. Here, we present the benefits, risks, and approaches to evaluating gene drives on the invasive weed common tansy.

Technical Abstract: Invasive plants cause significant environmental and economic damage, but land managers have few control options. Common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) is prevalent in many US states and is one of the most reported invasive plants in Minnesota. Controlling common tansy poses a challenge due to its extensive distribution and association with diverse plant communities. A gene drive is being explored as a genetic biocontrol method for the management of several non-native invasives, including common tansy in North America. Gene drives have emerged as a novel biotechnology application with potential to improve public health, promote conservation, and increase agricultural productivity. In common tansy, gene drives could be developed to target genes that would reduce or eliminate female fertility and consequently inhibit common tansy seed production. Using common tansy as an example, we outline risks associated with the use of gene drive technology for invasive plant control and explain how risks may be mitigated. Understanding potential benefits and risks associated with gene drives in the early stages of development is crucial. Mitigating risks, receiving stakeholder input, and navigating the regulatory environment will play an important role in gene drive development and deployment.