Current thoughts about the integration of field and laboratory sciences in genetic control of disease vectors


  • T.W. Scott


Realizing the full potential of genetic control of vectors for disease prevention will require development of a research agenda that captures the willingness of people with diverse expertise to work together toward constructive and substantive goals. Below I review the five ecological and population biology topics that are central to contemporary genetic vector-control programmes and present opportunities of collaboration between people engaged in primarily laboratory- versus field-based research activities: (1) spread and stability of introduced genes; (2) evolutionary consequences of mosquito transformation; (3) entomological risk, pathogen transmission and disease severity; (4) quantitative analyses of mosquito biology, disease and genetically modified mosquito (GMM) control; and (5) procedural issues. I point out opportunities for greater, mutually beneficial interaction between laboratory- and field-based scientists. I draw four general conclusions from this analysis. First, an improved understanding of ecological topics associated with GMMs will provide the conceptual and factual foundation for application of genetic-control technology. Second, four topics that should be considered research priorities are male biology, mating behaviour, colonization and mass-production effects, and population biology. Third, in addition to greater collaboration between ecologists and molecular geneticists, genetic-control programmes will require recruitment of expertise from outside the vector-borne disease arena, greater involvement by scientists from diseaseendemic countries (DECs), training for young scientists, adequate funding, and a sustained effort. Fourth, collaboration will be a central component of the legacy and success of genetic control for vector-borne disease prevention