Review of previous applications of genetics to vector control


  • C.F. Curtis


The idea of genetic control of insect pests and vectors was invented independently three times in the 1930s-40s. Results with releases of radiation-sterilized male tsetse have been encouraging. Much work was done in the 1970s on mosquitoes with sterile males and systems that could potentially be used for gene driving. Chemosterilized Anopheles separated from females by a genetic sexing system was successfully released in El Salvador. In India chemosterilization, cytoplasmic incompatibility, translocations and meiotic drive were tested with culicine mosquitoes in field cages, for mating competitiveness in the field and in some cases in village-wide release trials. However, a town-wide eradication attempt with Aedes aegypti was stopped due to spurious claims about biological warfare. This experience underlines the need for very careful attention to relations with journalists, politicians and the general public. Transgenic sterile males, which are now available, should have considerable advantages over radiation and chemosterilization and would seem well suited for eradication of urban vector populations