Developing novel CRISPR-based gene drive systems to manage the Colorado potato beetle, a global crop pest

01 October 2021 → 15 January 2023
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Animal genetics
    • Invertebrate biology
  • Engineering and technology
    • Other biotechnology, bio-engineering and biosystem engineering not elsewhere classified
  • Agricultural and food sciences
    • Agricultural plant protection
    • Biotechnology for agricultural, forestry, fisheries and allied sciences not elsewhere classified
CRISPR/Cas9 gene drives insect pest control
Project description

shaThe Colorado potato beetle (CPB) is widely considered as one of the world’s most successfully invasive insect herbivores with costs of ongoing management reaching tens of millions of dollars annually and projected costs, if unmanaged, reaching billions of dollars. To date, CPB management has been based on the use of insecticides. However, the beetle has evolved resistance to all of the major classes of insecticides. A new targeted management strategy, based on gene drives, could be developed and used to control CPB. A gene drive is a genetic phenomenon that occurs in nature and causes a selected trait to spread rapidly through a species over several generations. Normally, genes have a 50% chance of being inherited, but a gene drive could increase that chance to 99%. As such, gene drives can be used to pass any trait in the pest population, including those that can lead to population reduction. This project aims to develop a new management strategy for CPB populations that relies on gene drives. This will be achieved by creating a gene drive that will pass a wingless (no wings) or sexless (with sex distortion) trait in the CPB population. The ability of these drives to control the CPB population and the potential of resistance emergence to the gene drives will be evaluated. This project will generate useful fundamental knowledge on gene drives and provide innovative gene drives to manage CPB populations.